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Friday, 24 July 2020

Travel for a Healthy Mind


Can Travel really benefit our mental health
Travel.......what's the first thing that comes to mind? A package holiday, a cruise, a spa retreat? Maybe you are more active....perhaps a hiking tour, or skiing in the Alps? Possibly travel means more than a holiday? Some may feel that travel is not travel unless you research your destination and get to know the culture, history and tradition of the countries you plan to visit? Whether your thoughts on travel are exciting and exhilarating, adventurous or relaxing you can be sure that it will be beneficial to your well-being, mental and emotional health.

  • Reduces Stress Levels - Planning a holiday or a trip away from the normal hustle and bustle of everyday life will help decrease stress levels especially during the planning stages of a vacation. Our thoughts of relaxation or adventure will take our minds off our worries and daily chores as we organise our itineraries. Looking at brochures and pictures of our destination will promote happiness and a sense of calm. Interestingly ticking off a destination from our "bucket list" and achieving a goal gives us a sense of accomplishment, contemplating our own personal plans and interests.
  • Promotes Self-Care - Holidays and travel are an essential part of nurturing our personal care. I believe, personally, we are not meant to stay in one place, but explore the world around us, to educate ourselves and venture onto the unknown. This all helps to improve our self-esteem and confidence. Getting away from the "norm" in exchange for warmer climates, relaxation or adventures, hiking or skiing, with loved ones or solo will give a sense of fulfilment and accomplishment, leading to a healthier mindset.
  • Helps you stay fit and healthy - How many of us think about travel and holidays prior to the year end or at the start of a new year. These are generally the times when we decide to do the big 'overhaul' on our health and fitness routines. With a holiday planned for the summer, we have an aim or a goal with the reward already waiting for us and our new healthy self to enjoy. When we want to make improvements to ourselves, we need to make a goal and make it achievable. This is more sustainable with the reward being 6 to 8 months away. We have time to implement and visualise our goals. Booking the vacation, spa retreat or package holiday can make a 'hole' in our 'nest egg' or regiment our saving plans thus helping us to stay on the path towards our own personal goals.
  • Boosts Happiness - Travel definitely brings happiness, especially during the planning, budgeting and booking of the actual date.......the anticipation and rush of pleasure as you click the 'send' or 'accept' button. A surge of 'happy' hormones when you finally have those tickets in your hands. Your thoughts of chilling out in the sun, swimming in the sea, skiing down the slopes or hiking to see the most stunning views are all that your body and mind crave for - the 'stress busters'. We envisage leaving work, it's pressures and the everyday schedules behind as a 'trade-off' for dining outside in the warm evening breeze, relaxing walks and the freedom to do as we please. All these feelings and pleasures will re-charge our batteries, improve our mood and help to increase our happiness when we return back to our normal daily lives.
  • Creates Memories - Part of our happy 'structure' is made up of joyful memories. Holidays and travel create those wonderful recollections. We take photos, write journals and post on social media to help us recall events or experiences that make us smile. We should hold on to these experiences and recreate them when we return to 'normal' life. If you enjoyed Greek food.....learn to cook some of the foods you enjoyed. If you loved swimming in the sea, then do this at home too. If you enjoyed long afternoon strolls or 'cat naps' in the afternoon try to continue at home, if this is possible. If you can recreate happy memories to improve your physical and mental health, then a holiday is well worth the investment of your hard earned cash. 
Book that Holiday or Break Away
So now.......you want to book a holiday? Take your time and browse through brochures, social media and travel sites. Open your mind and look at all sorts of destinations, types of holidays and the total costs. You might surprise yourself when studying the types of holidays available. From cruises to coach tours, package holidays to all-inclusive....there are many ways to enjoy a break. If you have the money saved and waiting to book the holiday of a lifetime, there are so many ways to travel the world and experience specialist holidays designed especially for you. If you are on a budget with limited spending money, then you will find all-inclusive deals at most destinations you search for. Even if you are on a very tight budget there are last minute deals or 'accommodation on arrival' holidays. Out of the 52 weeks in the year......2 of these will be on your long awaited break from your every day life. Even on your holiday, an open mindset is imperative, regardless of the amount of money you have paid. I have experienced both ends of the spectrum where travel and holidays are concerned and always approach any travel with my mind totally open to anything that can happen. I have been on cruises where the weather has been diabolical and I spend most of the cruise looking pretty 'green'. However the destinations all but made up for the travel and the plus point... I never gained a pound. The other end of the scale are 'allocated on arrival' holidays. Never and I mean never hope for 'that hotel' that looks 'exquisite' in the brochure, as one of the four properties you could be allocated to, once you arrive. This kind of mindset will set you up for disappointment. I went on my first 'allocation on arrival' holiday at 32 with my friend who was 55 at the time. It was in the height of the summer and the destination was Gran Canaria. We were allocated to the resort of 'Playa del Ingles' in a 'Club 18' property, even though we were 32 and 55 years old. The resort was fully booked and there was no hope of being re-allocated to another accommodation. It was a two week vacation and we just decided to enjoy ourselves......and we did. We taught those youngsters a thing or two....well my friend did for sure. We went on bar crawls, pirate party night cruises, catamaran day trips. We both entered the bikini competition, played beach volley ball, jet skied and sailed on the sunset cruises. We had the time of our lives. Those memories have made me smile for so many years.....in fact I still smile now and I am the age my friend was, at the time we took the holiday. 

Conclusion
A holiday is not just a delightful diversion from our everyday life. It enhances both our physical health and mental well-being. It is an experience where we need to have an open mindset to gain happy, fulfilling memories that stay with us for many years to come. These memories will surface when we need to find a happy place and de-stress. 
A holiday or break needs to be affordable, not out of reach causing stress before we have even fully planned the vacation. Search all holiday types and offers with an open mind and start to set a budget so that you can fully enjoy this experience and time away from work and daily commitments. If you have never budgeted before and need a few ideas please see my article What if? That was the Question. There is a section on budgeting with a free download to help you plan a budget and save some of your earnings. 
Now you have read this article and understood the importance of planning a break, holiday or self-care retreat and the good it will do for your own health and well-being........go and search the net, pack your bags and enjoy!


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