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10 Ways to Reduce Vacation Stress so You Can Truly Unwind

10 Ways to Reduce Vacation Stress so You Can Truly Unwind

Going on vacation has been proven to be good for your health. In fact, studies have shown that men who fail to go on vacation at least once a year have a 32 percent higher chance of dying from a heart attack than their vacation-going peers. Despite this, the stress-busting benefits of taking time off can be dramatically reduced if you aren’t careful. Therefore, instead of making your vacation merely a different type of stress, it is wise to follow a few simple steps to ensure you truly get the most out of your downtime.

1. Pick One Main Activity Per Day

Are you the type of person who typically jams as much into each vacation day as possible? This often happens because people feel like they have to see or do everything in a new area, but the truth is that you don’t, nor should you attempt to. Going on a holiday gives you the opportunity to experience new places and culture, but you aren’t going to be able to fully relax and enjoy yourself if you are over-scheduled. Avoid this problem by picking one main activity per day. You may visit fewer tourist hot-spots than usual, but you’re also highly likely to have a lot more fun.

2. Arrange Parking in Advance

Parking can be a nightmare, and it is often very expensive to leave your vehicle at a hotel. However, if your vacation plans involve driving a car, it is necessary to deal with these challenges. The good news is that there are parking services and apps such as Your Parking Space that give you the opportunity to arrange your parking in advance or even while you are on the go. This will provide you with pricing information up front, and it will take a lot of the guesswork out of finding a place to park in a new area.

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3. Unplug from Email and Social Media

It is easy to get sucked into work email or excessive social media posting while you are on vacation, but this is not relaxing in the slightest. Studies indicate that a lot of screen time could make it more difficult for you to fall asleep, and it might even make you more prone to experiencing depression. When you combine this with the simple fact that taking on work stress during your time off makes it feel like less of a vacation, it is easy to understand why some people put their phone away when they go on a holiday.

4. Provide a Buffer Before and After Your Trip

Are you planning to fly out after work or return to the office the morning after a red-eye flight back home? This might seem like the best way to maximize your time, but you are going to pay for it in lost sleep and added stress. Even if you end up with one or two fewer days at your destination, it will be worth it to add some buffer time to both ends of your trip. In other words, leave the next morning instead, and come back a day early so that you can get back into the groove of your daily life before starting work again. As an added bonus, taking this approach will help you minimize the feelings of stress that are associated with getting ready and transitioning far too quickly. This is especially critical if you will be changing time zones.

5. Choose a Staycation Instead

Are you looking for a way to enjoy a long weekend or even a week without spending a lot of money? Ditch the financial stress and the complications associated with traveling by planning a staycation instead! You will be in the comfort of familiar surroundings, but you will also be able to give yourself permission to let the housework slide for a few days and explore some new places within your local area. You can save even more money by choosing cheap or free activities such as going to a nearby national park or a free music event.

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6. Vacation Alone or in a Group of Two

Vacationing as a family or with friends always sounds like a great idea, but the reality is that this often leads to disagreements and a lot of compromising. To avoid these stressors, go on a vacation by yourself or with just one other person who has similar interests and holiday goals. When you don’t have to coordinate everything with multiple people, it will naturally become much easier to relax, set a slower pace and cross off your major must-sees during your trip. Another nice perk of solo travel is that you can focus more on mindfulness, which has been proven to reduce the stress hormone.

7. Consider Public Transportation

If you don’t need to have a car with you to get around the local area, it can be very stress relieving to rely on public transportation instead. Of course, your destination needs to have a robust and reliable public transportation system for this to work, so be sure to do some research before you make any definitive decisions. Some places offer discount packages for travelers who will be regularly taking a train or bus for a few days, which could be a good way to save some money. You can also help the environment by choosing public transportation. In fact, subways reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a whopping 76 percent when compared to a standard passenger vehicle.

8. Choose a Relaxing Destination

Every destination has the potential to be relaxing if it allows you to indulge in your passions, but it is much less stress inducing to go somewhere with a laid back vibe. This is the primary reason that beach towns and resorts are so popular, and you can get even better results by going the week before the peak season begins. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit some of the biggest cities on earth if they are on your bucket list, but it does mean you should also prioritize fitting in a more relaxing destination for some of your trips.

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9. Pack Everything in Advance

Some people find themselves still packing a few minutes before heading to the airport, and this is going to cause you to deal with a lot of unnecessary stress. Do yourself a favor and make sure that everything except for a few smaller items such as your toothbrush are packed by the day before you leave. This is also good advice to follow when it is time to return from vacation. Ultimately, it is wise to prepare as much as possible in advance to eliminate any last minute rushing around because we all know there’s nothing relaxing about cramming clothes into a suitcase when you should be leaving.

10. Make Time for Personal Self-Care Activities

It may be tempting to schedule every vacation activity around the attractions you can only find at your destination, but if you truly want to relax, be sure to include some personal self-care. For example, massages are well-known to reduce stress and anxiety, so booking into a spa for an hour or two will make your vacation more relaxing. You may also want to consider going to a movie to unwind while steering clear of the hottest part of the day.

A vacation is a proven way to lower your stress levels, but it also important to incorporate stress management techniques into your daily life. After all, stress is the leading cause of doctor visits in the U.S., so it is clear that everyone needs to find ways to relax more frequently and effectively.

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Featured photo credit: Jean Beaufort via publicdomainpictures.net

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Holly Chavez

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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