With today’s hectic pace of life there appears to be a greater need to take breaks or holidays. In fact, a lot of research now highlights the health benefits of taking vacations. For example, the famous Framlington Heart Study in America, followed 12,000 men over a nine year period and found a clear link between the holidays and physical wellbeing. As one researcher put it, "The more frequent the vacations, the longer the men lived”.
But not all holidays are created equal when it comes to their capacity to help us unwind. Many of us will have experienced the ‘holiday from hell’ where striking transport workers, upset tummies, extreme weather or botched bookings, have left us more frazzled than refreshed.
What are the ingredients for a holiday that truly charges our batteries? American psychologist, David Ballard, suggests four key points.
Firstly, holidays should provide an opportunity to take a break from thinking or stressing about work. (So, and this is quite a challenge for some people, it really is a good idea to completely disconnect from work, including emails). Secondly, a refreshing holiday will give us the chance to really stop and slow things down – a time to ‘chill out’ and relax. Thirdly, good breaks can offer us the opportunity to take part in stimulating activities that are unrelated to work. These might include, exploring different locations or trying new places to eat or drink. Last, but definitely not least, a refreshing holiday should also provide us with a chance to catch up on our sleep. Ideally, this will be a sleep where we wake up feeling truly rested and revived.
The summer is now upon us. So, plan your breaks carefully. Ideally, you will feel better rested, rejuvenated and healthier when you return.
For NHS funded therapy for stress, anxiety or depression, phone (01208) 871905 or register online [HERE]