The winter months can leave us dreaming of carefree vacations—and there’s nothing wrong with that! It turns out there are abundant health benefits to taking a vacation, and there are plenty of different ways to take one.
Escape for your health
Research by the University of Waterloo shows that more than a third of full-time workers studied don’t take their full vacation time. That’s unfortunate, because they may be missing out on some really important benefits, including
- decreased stress and better ability to cope with stressful situations
- reduced cardiovascular disease risk
- boosted family cohesion and communication (for vacationing families)
- increased health, well-being and quality of life, generally
But, of course, these benefits aren’t permanent: one vacation won’t make us happier forever! That’s why it’s important to make escaping from our jobs—temporarily—a regular part of our year. Research suggests that even the anticipation of having a vacation planned can increase our happiness.
A tropical getaway doesn’t do the job for everyone. Why not go out on a limb and try some of these ideas?
Take up a new hobby
Vacationing with a purpose can be extremely enriching. Consider taking an unusual cooking class (or learning how to photograph your culinary creations for Instagram), taking up rock climbing, joining a hiking club or learning to play the trombone.
Have a staycation
For fun sans jet lag, be a tourist in your own city: visit restaurants you’ve always wanted to try, linger in museums and art galleries, go to the theater, attend concerts and enjoy the great outdoors.
Do a house swap
Live like a local by swapping houses with someone who lives abroad—it’s a great way to travel on a budget and have a unique experience.
A mini vacation
Can’t get away? Give yourself a mental break with these tips. You can even implement some of these tips at work.
- Unplug after work. Employees who stay connected after work face greater stress and reduced concentration.
- Go for a brisk walk. There’s nothing quite like fresh air and exercise to clear your head and reduce stress.
- Practice meditation. Meditation doesn’t need to take a long time. Take one minute to practice some deep breathing, visualize something positive, count your breaths or recite a calming mantra.
- Give yourself a massage. Self-massage can be a quick, easy, inexpensive and effective stress-relief technique. For tired eyes, gently massage the area around the eye socket; for headaches, massage the neck and forehead; and for sore wrists and hands, circle your wrists and massage your fingers and palms.
- Eat a (mindful) snack. Try veggies and hummus, coconut water, Greek yogurt, fruit or nuts. Eat mindfully, focusing on the scent, taste and texture of the snack.
- Chew a piece of gum. Strange but true—chewing gum can help calm us down in moments of stress, boosting our mood, improving our performance and reducing our cortisol levels.