Say bon voyage to stress with these tips for a rejuvenating vacation.
Daydreaming of lounging by a pool where your only worry is if your drink comes with a paper umbrella? Job woes, family pressures and financial stress can make you want to hop the next flight to, well, anywhere.
In spite of our collective need to get away, Americans are taking less time off than ever. And in many cases, the very things we wish to escape—job and everyday pressures—are keeping us put. After all, finding time to sneak away when you’re up to your eyeballs in work may seem like more trouble than it’s worth.
But that’s where you couldn’t be more mistaken. Research shows that taking time off can brighten our mood, eradicate stress and even make us more productive and appreciative of work. While any getaway is bound to put a spring in your step, the more relaxing your vacation, the better you’ll feel when you return. Here’s why time off should be at the top of your to-do list. Plus, find out how to plan a vacation that will leave you feeling invigorated and refreshed.
Why should you go on vacation?
With 40-minute commutes, bickering children or a boss who’s constantly looking over your shoulder, it’s no wonder you’re seeing tropical mirages in your mashed potatoes. Many of us carry around so much stress that we practically forget it’s there—kind of like those 10 extra pounds we vowed to lose last Christmas. Lugging around extra emotional weight can take a serious toll on our health and well-being.
Stress hypes up the body, setting off a chain of physiological reactions known as the stress response. You can feel it in your quickened pulse, your clenched jaw or your sense of panic. This heightened state of arousal can keep us up at night, make us more susceptible to infections, increase blood pressure and put us at a greater risk of heart disease, obesity and depression. Luckily, taking time off can help break the cycle of stress. Just as we need time to recover from a workout, we need time to recuperate from psychological stress too. Finding ways to unwind and bring our nervous system into a state of calm is essential to staying healthy—and sane. Depriving your body of much-needed downtime could have serious health results. In a study of men at high risk for heart disease, frequent annual vacations were associated with a significantly lower risk of death. Vacations don’t just make us feel better, they help keep us well.
Of course, not all vacations are created equal. To come home feeling ready to take on the world, studies show that your vacation must be sufficiently relaxing and rejuvenating. So what does an ultra-relaxing vacation look like, and how can you plan a vacation that actually renews you? Here, your pre-departure checklist for plotting the perfectly renewing escape:
- Put Less Hassle in Your Travel
- Agree to Disagree
- Short and Sweet
- Have One Really Amazing Experience
- Get Out of Town!
- Absorb Your Surroundings
- Get into a Vacation Frame of Mind
- To Work or Not to Work
- Take a Headtrip