Recession Anxiety

Update : Tour operators are offering guilt-free vacations.

We talked about canceling our vacation because we felt guilty. My spouse and I had more than one serious conversation about taking a vacation right now when so many are experiencing so much real economic pain, losing jobs, struggling to get by and experiencing the emotional trauma that comes with this recession.

Apparently we’re not alone. Recession anxiety is widespread according to an article in today’s New York Times and it comes in many forms. Many of us are plagued with everyday, on-going anxiety and decisions about the future.

As for my spouse and me, we wavered. We weighed pros and cons. We beat ourselves up. And, finally we went.

Both of us have jobs with a fair degree of stress and we agreed we needed time away. We had planned for the vacation and set aside funds, so it wasn’t taking away from necessities, it wasn’t running up credit card debt and it didn’t take the place of our giving to the church and charitable groups.

A couple of years ago I was admonished publicly to take time off. The board of directors made it clear. Frankly, it was embarrassing then and it’s embarrassing now to remember and write about. But this, too, came into our conversation.

Not taking time off would not change the global financial situation one iota, of course. Yet, it might make us feel better–or would it? Would we disengage and refresh ourselves by staying put? Would we feel we had done the right thing, even if we didn’t feel better after doing it?

So, we went. I’m glad we did. We both needed time away to clear our heads, rest our bodies, take in something new and replenish our emotional reserves.

But the doubt didn’t dispel easily. As we boarded the plane, she looked at me and whispered something about still feeling guilt. I said, "I know." And I really did because I felt the same.

Sunset off Grand Case Watching the sunset later that evening, listening to the ocean waves gently break I felt a sense of peacefulness and gratefulness that helped ease some of the doubt. Over the course of the next few days it nearly dissipated as we enjoyed our time together, relaxed and let the cares back home separate from our minds. Everyday, however, I said, "This was the right thing to do." As if saying would make it even more true.

I know today it was the right thing to do. I’m better at work and I’m thinking more clearly because I took time away. I really enjoyed taking pictures of butterflies and looking at the beauty of the ocean. We walked and swam and I feel as if I have more energy for the tasks at hand today.

But still, I waver. I even wavered about sharing the photos of butterflies with staff. Not because they were bad, or it was wrong, but because I was concerned about what they would think about me taking a vacation at this time! Wow, the punishment we visit upon ourselves–at least that I am able to visit upon me.

So however you read this–the musings of an obsessed workaholic, or the ramblings of an anxiety-riddled neurotic writer–I get it about recession anxiety.

I hope you enjoy the photos of the butterflies anyway.

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