Mental Health In Quarantine/Travel

The Big Splurge That Totally Calmed My Election-Week Anxiety

By | Monday, November 09, 2020

I feel I speak for everyone when I say — this year has felt depleting.

Living through a global pandemic, while dealing with anxiety and loneliness, being apart from loved ones, incurring financial hardships, and a sharp turn in plans, is already too much to handle. Add to that the most important election of our lives and…well…it’s been a year, to say the least.

So I wanted a moment to simply destress and escape afterward. Though I can’t claim to be a campaign organizer or a grassroots activist, I’ve done as much as I can this election season. From phone banking and text banking to helping people register to vote, to translating documents for those who don’t speak English, and even forcing my parents and close friends to volunteer with me, this year has taken a lot out of me. So I won’t lie.

I spent $1,500 this past weekend just to recuperate—and I regret nothing.

I’m sure we’ve all had different breaking points this year, but planning a post-election themed trip helped keep my head (and my mind) above waters. Given that I’d saved a good chunk of money over the year by spending less on takeout, concerts, or other money-fueled experiences, I decided I was allowed the luxury of splurging on a cabin in the redwoods, with a heated pool to boot. What’s more, I graciously invited my roommate to join me on the first and last night of my trip. This meant I got a free ride to and from the cabin, which would have otherwise cost me $125 roundtrip. My foresight in bringing prepped foods and frozen meals also meant I didn’t waste money on Uber Eats or Lyfts to and from restaurants. While on a typical vacation I would want to experience food and culture and splurge on a nice meal, in the pandemic, I really just want to be as safe as possible. I’d estimate that this easily saved me another $150, given that delivery costs really rack up and restaurant meals, which would have more than likely been at a posh neighborhood nearby, would have been costly.

With that said, my costs had essentially been cut down to my AirBnB stay, as well as the groceries I brought with me. My hosts were also kind enough to provide a few food essentials as well, including bread, eggs, butter, and bacon, so I was able to coordinate accordingly. I had strategically picked a location that was minutes from multiple hiking trails, with a heated pool just outside, swings to relax, read and journal in, and plenty of outdoor space to have a socially distanced meal, or hike if friends decided to Uber down and spend the day with me.

Honestly, getting out of my home space and into ‘solo traveler mode,’ was just what I needed. I’ve always enjoyed traveling alone since I feel most alive when I do. My senses are honed since I can’t rely on anyone else and I enjoy living at my own pace instead of a schedule that doesn’t have much room for flexibility, or worse, which accommodates others’ interests instead of my own. With this trip, I got to do exactly what I wanted, when I wanted. And I found myself enjoying a solo hike much more than I would have, had I been consumed with conversation, or the need to keep up the physical pace with others.

I also felt at peace, outside the city. While I love my bustling neighborhood and the sparkling lights I can see from my floor-to-ceiling windows, the silence of the woods was warm and welcoming. I felt I was better able to think through my complicated thoughts and emotions while in the wilderness. Even FaceTime calls were more enjoyable since I wasn’t juggling laundry or doing dishes in-between. But perhaps best of all, was that I was allowed to swim — in the middle of autumn.

Without a doubt, the heated pool is absolutely why the cabin cost as much as it did per night, but I made good use of it. As a former competitive swimmer, I went through years when I didn’t even want to get into a pool for exercise since it brought back the stressful days of competing. But, with the distance of time, I thoroughly enjoyed having access to a pool, alternating between swimming laps and listening to an audiobook as I soaked in it.

Yet, the best, most unexpected part of this trip, was having the ability to exercise as much as I did.  Days before the election, I randomly injured my back, and during one of the most stressful times of the year, I was unable to workout through the stress. Instead, I resorted to stress eating and drinking, which honestly just made me feel worse, and I arrived at my cabin in worse shape than I anticipated. But being able to swim in the water helped release much of my frustration and healed up my back better than I expected it to. While I always planned to enjoy the star amenity of having a heated pool, I found myself even more grateful for it, and what my body could do in the water. Somehow the timing was perfect; I’d even like to think that the money splurged on the trip actually saved me a much costlier visit with a physical therapist.

Finally, I didn’t anticipate how invigorating I would find it to choose to be alone, versus have it imposed upon me, by way of last-minute plans. With those moments to myself — by myself — I took the time to really tap into activities that fulfilled me, like reading, writing, cooking and being outdoors, opposed to feeling bored and watching Netflix and doom-scrolling through Instagram while feeling FOMO. Though I did schedule FaceTime catchups with friends and invited others to socially distance with me in the redwoods, for the most part, I found myself cozying up by myself and simply letting go.

“I’m concerned — we have a lot of work to do politically, both currently and beyond this presidential election.”

None of the anxiety of 2020 is going away anytime soon— the pandemic is probably here to stay, even into 2021. As far as I’m concerned, we have a lot of work to do politically, both currently and beyond this presidential election. Personally, I’d encourage others to find ways to make time for themselves and what they need to do to recharge before the upcoming holiday season, in order to ensure that they’ll have a new year that doesn’t bring a ton of old problems into it (ongoing pandemic aside, of course).

So whether it’s a staycation as I did, or a solo hike, a day off from work, or merely cozying up with a good book, it isn’t selfish to take time out for what you need, especially after the year —and election season— we just had.

Keertana Anandraj is a recent college grad living in San Francisco. When she isn’t conducting international macroeconomic research at her day job, you can find her in the spin room or planning her next adventure.

Image via Unsplash

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