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Finding Refuge

My 5-Week, $500 Vacation from Anxiety

Illustration of animals around watering hold

Water Hole 2 by Michelle Morin

It was 4:00 a.m. on a chilly winter morning as I sat on the couch nibbling frozen peanut butter cups and shuffling through the television channels. Just five years ago I had been the girl who picked a city on a map and moved there and then quit a perfectly acceptable marketing job to plunge into freelance writing. Now I was waking up to the fact that I had never been so timid or afraid in my life—and the thing I was most afraid of was my own thoughts.To the bystander, I had no reason to be anxious. My husband was still the loving optimist whom I had fallen in love with a decade ago. We lived a few blocks from the beach in Charleston, South Carolina. But as a freelance writer with a husband who worked long hours as an attorney, I felt lonely. My parents’ recent breakup also weighed on me. My dad’s mistakes had broken up a marriage nearly half a century in the making and now my parents would each be alone in their old age. Guilt and fear constantly played in the background of my mind. Physically, I had become a string bean.Was I where I was supposed to be in life? Was I doing what I was supposed to be doi …

Sara Novak is a journalist and yoga instructor who can be found walking the beach with her husband, baby boy, and two lovable cocker spaniels—or at

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