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Who doesn’t love a holiday? It’s something that most of us really look forward to, and for good reason too…
Holidays play an essential role in our physical, mental and spiritual health and well-being. Some of the ways in which holidays do this include…
Help us to de-stress: It’s amazing how much stress we carry with us day to day without even noticing. All of us have our own version of stress. It could include job related stress, such as the burden of meeting tight deadlines, work place politics, or, even being unemployed. It may be financial stress, including paying bills and planning for your future. It may be stress from managing the complexities of household demands, growing a family and having to make making crucial decisions. It may be stress related to physical or mental illness – either your own or others. Or it may be stress related to anything else in your life.
Regardless of the type, stress can have negative effects on both our physical and mental health and well-being. From supressing our immune system, increasing our weight, making us depressed and significantly shortening our life expectancy. Even people who claim to thrive of a high-pressured and somewhat stressful lifestyle often admit, that there are times when they just need to get away from it all.
And that’s because holidays enable us to break the stress cycle by allowing us to become human-beings, instead of human-doings, once again. This includes not having any commitments/feeling any obligation that you need to be here, or, there trying to do 15 things at once – rushing from one thing to another. Being allows the constant inner chatter, and never ending mental ‘to do’ list to quiet down. Being allows us to shift from constant thinking and living in our head, to being more grounded and centred in our own physical body and surrounds. This is a big deal, especially when you consider that most of the negative stress we experience in life is a result of thinking. So, the more we can simply ‘be’ and connect to the present, the more we destress and recharge our batteries. And the more you do this, the happier you become!
Gain perspective & move forward: Within the rush of life today, it is very easy to lose sight of the big picture, which can often leave us feeling flat. Holidays however, allow us to step back from life and form another perspective outside the bubble of routine and work. Holidays can help us to refocus and reconnect with what is real and of true importance, and enable us to make key decisions that ensure that we keep moving forward with our life.
Boost creativity & solve problems: Think about when you are the most creative – it’s usually when you are doing things like taking a shower, going for a walk, and of course when you are on holidays. In-fact, Einstein walked one and a half miles to Princeton and back each day – a walk he considered precious when it came to finding solutions to some of life’s most challenging questions. Why? Because any time you are not thinking, you’re in alignment with the present moment, which is creation itself. Holidays can boost creativity, and help us to find solutions to our problems.
Helps you to grow as a person: Holidays, and in particular traveling abroad meeting different people, learning a new language, experiencing different cultures and seeing different scenery, all help to broaden your knowledge base, and can help you to grow and better yourself as a person. In this way, travelling is so much more than enjoyment – it’s an investment in self-development. The more you travel, the more worldly you become.
Pull you out of a rut: Whilst routine is important for adding structure and organisation, too much of it can feel like ground-hog day, and before you know it, you’ve gotten yourself into a rut. Especially if you haven’t been on a holiday in a long time – you get stuck on auto pilot and become stale. We know that “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” So what better way to escape the work routine than with a holiday? Even a short holiday can be enough to give you back your mojo and begin enjoying life again.
Bring family and friends together: What is life really about? More so than anything else, it’s about sharing good times and creating positive memories with family and friends. Just think of some of your best memories – I bet some involve being on holidays. But in today’s culture of speed, the little time that we do get to spend with family and friends feels rushed between the daily grind of school, work and everything else. Holidays provide an opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends, without the commitments/obligations. This enables you to really be present, and enjoy your time more fully with those whom you love the most. This contributes positively to family bonding, communication and solidarity.
Rejuvenate your body: Whether its sitting or standing in the same spot for prolonged periods using a computer, or whether it’s being on the tools doing hard physical labour, what we do each day can and does have an impact on our body. In-fact, most of us carry some level of tension in our body – some of us carry it through our shoulders, neck and chest, some in the lower back, hips or wherever else. Most of the time we are not even aware of how much tension we carry, because we have lived with it for so long, that we think it’s normal. However, like all good athletes, sometimes we just need to stop and rest. A holiday forces us to stop and give our bodies much needed rest and recovery. The more replenished and healthier you become, the easier everything in life becomes.
Tips towards planning a holiday:
So now that you know why going on a holiday is so important, here are some of my top tips towards planning holidays…
Give yourself permission: If we don’t allow ourselves to take a holiday, then it just won’t happen. So never feel guilty about booking a holiday for yourself – holidays are an essential part of your wellbeing, not a luxury. It’s about loving yourself and putting yourself first. Give yourself permission to switch off, unwind and relax – after all you deserve it!
Be intentional and plan ahead: We are all busy, but with enough forward planning, we can all take a holiday. The first step is to embrace the possibility that you can go away, and think about where you want to go. Second, is to decide on how much time you want to spend away. The next important thing is to put a date on it – lock it in and say this is when I am going to go away, otherwise before you know it the year will creep away and you won’t have organised anything. Next, decide who you will go with – on your own, with family/friends, or will you do a tour?
Once you have this planned out then speak to your boss and inform them of the dates you will be away. Once its locked in then get others to cover your work/shifts, and organise whatever extra work you need to do before you go, etc. It’s all possible, and it simply requires some forward thinking and planning. Next, plan a very basic itinerary of what you want to do, and make accommodation/transport arrangements early so you don’t miss out and so you can get the best rates. Companies such as Airbnb have made forward planning and booking a holiday easier and more affordable than ever before. If you don’t want the stress of planning and booking your holiday, then consult a Travel Agent.
Organise and let go of your work life: If there’s one thing that takes away from a holiday, it’s having to worry about work. You don’t want to have employees, or, your boss calling you with issues that need to be resolved. So, before you go, delegate what you need done whilst you are away, and leave someone in charge of what you normally do. Turn of all of your email account notifications and set them all up with an email responder, and do the same on your phone messages as well. Delete all of your inbox before you go away, and also leave people to look after it for you so that you have an empty inbox when you get back.
Organising your work in this way will not only allow you to enjoy your holiday more, but it will also mean that coming back to work will be much easier. It will also give you more confidence to go away on holidays more often, because you won’t always be worrying about coming back to more work than before you left – a situation that makes going on holidays hardly worth it for many.
If you are in a situation (CEO, small business owner, gig economy) where you absolutely must do some work when you go away, then ensure to limit your work hours to a maximum of just a couple of hours per day and stick to it! But once again – this is only if you have absolutely no choice but to work. Remember, we work to live, not live to work!
Don’t stay at home: The worst thing you can do is stay at home on your holidays because you will always find chores to do – cleaning, painting, gardening, etc. These are all things that can be done in your free time – not on your holidays. Instead, holidays are about doing things that you don’t normally do whilst you are at home and which you really enjoy. Even if it is just reading a book, staying in bed or playing board games – you’re better off getting away for a few days to do them. So, when you book your holiday, ensure to go somewhere that you are far away enough from home to switch off from everything and in which you can’t just come back home easily.
Have a bucket list: Do you have a bucket list of the things you want to do in this lifetime? Time waits for no one, so it’s important to be doing the things you want to do whilst you can. If you don’t have a bucket list then create one, and ensure to tick a few of those things of your list every year. Aim to do the more physical ones like walking Kokoda trail earlier rather than later in life, but also know that you’re never really too old to do anything! Remember, you only live once, and so you should make the time to explore our beautiful planet. A planet which has countless beautiful and unique countries, regions, people, cultures, foods and everything else. Make the most of it!
Make your holiday an adventure: Life is really one big adventure so why should your holiday be any different? Research shows that holidays that involve new challenges that push you out of your comfort zone not only build new synapses, but are also often the most beneficial when it comes to stress reduction and improved overall well-being. Sure, you can vege out on the beach for hours at a time if that’s what you find the most relaxing. But be sure to stray outside of your resort, hotel, or wherever else, and explore the beaten track a little.
An adventure could just mean doing something different to what you normally do. Possibly hire a campervan and hit the open roads, or, if you like the seas, then a cruise might be for you. Or maybe you could try a more physical holiday by doing a walking/rowing/cycling trek and camping along the way. If camping is too full on, even give glamping a go. The ideas are limitless. So next time you book a holiday, consider trying something different and something a little more adventurous.
Consider a retreat: With more of us suffering burnout than ever before, the best holiday option may be a wellness retreat. Often utilizing well-being practices such as natural therapies, meditation, yoga, spa, massage, organic foods and self-development, a good retreat provides the perfect opportunity for you to unwind, recharge, and leave you feeling invigorated.
Get into nature: Not only is spending time in nature soothing for the soul, it also has the ability to restore physical and mental health. So, it makes sense to choose holiday destinations on the coast, in the hills or anywhere you can retreat to nature. There’s nothing like a bit of Vitamin Sea to make you feel better!
Get social: Holidays are often best shared and experienced with others. So, if you’re travelling alone, then this is a great opportunity to put yourself out there and meet others. Doing so will create more exciting, more memorable and more bonding experiences with you fellow vacationers. If you would like to travel with others but don’t have any friends to travel with/your partner doesn’t want to travel, then websites like travel buddies make finding others to travel with a breeze. Otherwise booking a guided tour can be a great way to travel and meet others at the same time. It’s also worth mentioning that having a regular holiday tradition where you go to the same place each year is also a great way to increase bonds between family and friends, and provide a better sense of identity, strength and belonging.
Go kid free: Does going away with your kids recharge you, or, does it leave you feeling more exhausted than before you left? If the latter is true, then aim to sometimes get away for a short holiday without the kids. It may be possible to leave them at home and ask close family/friends to look after them. Then, offer to return the favour when they plan their holiday.
Take overnight, short and long holidays: Holidays don’t have to be for weeks at a time – instead they can include a mix of:
*Day Trips – even a day at the beach can rejuvenate you.
*Mini Breaks – this is like having a power nap and often involves spending a single night away.
*Weekend Retreats – a couple of nights away are easy to plan around work and are great for getting away.
*Short Stays – 3 to 7 nights away, short trips are great to relax and rest your mind.
*Long Holiday – 1 to 6 weeks now we are talking – you’ll feel relaxed and replenished after this break.
*Travelling – 6 weeks+, great to see and explore the great big world.
Research tells us that it’s the anticipation of a holiday that is more important than the holiday itself. So it really does make sense to break your holidays up throughout the year, and have lots of smaller holidays, rather than one or two big holidays.
With that said, whilst it is healthy to feel a heightened sense of excitement and anticipation towards any upcoming holiday, if you find yourself often hanging out for a holiday to the exclusion of everything else, then this may be a problem. The same is often true if your someone who finds that it takes you a few days or even weeks to unwind when you do go on holidays. If you can relate to either of these, then what is it about your life that you’re constantly wanting to escape from, or, that takes you a significant amount of time to unwind from? Is it your own thoughts, your work, your partner, your kids, or, something else?
Whatever it is, you need to ensure that you live true in a way that makes every day an enjoyable one – not just when you are on holidays. Otherwise you are missing everything that goes on in-between those holidays – which is life itself. On top of being enjoyable, it also needs to be sustainable to, otherwise you’ll find yourself in the same situation again. For example, if you’re just working long hours and doing a job which is nothing more than a means to an end (ie. for money), then you will always feel as if you need to get away. But if you do a job that you love, then every day becomes enjoyable, so you don’t feel the need to unwind from anything.
So, remember, holidays are a necessity, not a luxury, for both your physical and mental health and wellbeing. They help us to gain perspective on our problems, give us a break from our usual routines and provide a chance to unwind and reconnect with family and friends. I don’t know about you, but I’m already starting to plan my next holiday!
Q.When and where are you next planning your next holiday to and why?