Vacation prescription

As a Naturopathic Doctor I treat the whole person and address mental, emotional and physical health concerns. Although my treatment plans often include acupuncture, Vitamin IVs, plant medicines, vitamins, minerals and/or dietary changes I also prescribe vacations!
This fits into the “lifestyle counselling” portion of what I do as an ND. Lifestyle counselling in its many forms is an important way that Naturopathic doctors help patients achieve profound healing and maintain wellness.

Over the course of this pandemic, I have noticed many of my patients working harder than they ever have and I have seen the toll stress is taking on them. Some of them are parents and have been trying to work from home, while also supervising children. I’ve seen anxiety, insomnia, burnout, conflict within relationships and a lot of mental and physical health issues. The solutions to these challenges are multi-faceted, but today I want to focus on the benefits of vacations.

The ideal vacation will look different for every person, and a vacation does not have to be an expensive adventure. The important elements are:
– taking a break from work
– a change of scene
– spending time outdoors
– finding a balance of time alone vs. time with people you enjoy.

For someone who is handling a hectic schedule and is often in “fight or flight mode,” a vacation should offer a chance to slow down the nervous system and spend more time in “rest and digest” mode.

Why do I have to prescribe vacations? Some of my patients have such a strong work ethic that it’s harming them – these folks may need permission, encouragement or a straight-up order to take time off work. I have sometimes been very blunt with patients and told them that stress is making them sick, and if they don’t take a vacation, and reduce the stressors in their life, they will not be able to get well.

Don’t underestimate the power of taking a break! You can return to your regular life feeling rested and ready to approach challenges with a new perspective.