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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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8 Things to Watch for If You’re Considering Being Vegetarian

8 Things to Watch for If You’re Considering Being Vegetarian

Vegetarianism has been around for a long time, finding favor with many people, including Pythagoras clear back around 580 B.C. It’s been presented as one of the most healthy diets around, including being touted by the Egyptians to the point of abstaining from meat and animal clothing due to karmic beliefs. The vegetarian society (vegsoc.org) defines vegetarianism as:

“Someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits with, or without, the use of dairy products and eggs. A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish* or by-products of slaughter.”

While it’s pretty obvious that there are multiple benefits to following a vegetarian diet, it’s always good to be informed about the cons of this dietary choice as well.

Outlined below are several things you might want to be aware of before you say good-bye to meat forever. Whether you are a current vegetarian, or contemplating making a shift, keep in mind these 8 things to keep yourself healthy.

1. You could suffer from B12 vitamin deficiency

The B vitamins are especially important for stress management, adrenal health, and brain function. Vegetarians in particularly are at risk for B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 is attached to the protein in animal products and without enough B12 you can suffer from depression, fatigue, and an inability to concentrate.

Due to its attachment to animal proteins, B12 is the hardest for vegetarians to obtain when they don’t eat dairy or eggs in their diet. This essential little vitamin can be found in some algae and has been added to some yeast, but research doesn’t currently provide enough information to say whether or not these forms of B12 are of good quality and can provide adequate supplementation.

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The body is unable to make this vitamin, meaning it has to be taken in through food or supplementation. Essential for making red blood cells, DNA, nerves and various other function in the body, a Harvard Health Medical report in January of 2013 found symptoms of a B12 deficiency can present in sneaky ways including depression, paranoia, delusion, and loss of taste and smell.

2.  You could suffer from higher states of anxiety/depression, lower sense of well-being

According to a CBS Atlanta report, vegetarians suffered from a higher rate of anxiety and depression than their counterparts. Read the full report here. Depression and/or anxiety can be a result of many possible deficiencies including essential vitamins and amino acids you can find only in meat products, including Omega-3s from wild caught salmon.

Without the correct supplementation and proper understanding of diet, including the importance of micro and macro nutrients, depression and anxiety can become a serious problem, bringing down the overall health and well-being of vegetarians.

Even though reports on health and lifestyle show vegetarians have a lower BMI and lower consumption of alcohol and drugs, it also shows they suffer from more chronic illnesses and more visits to the doctor than their meat eating counterparts.

3. You could suffer from excess weight

When you go vegetarian it opens up a lot of food, but just because there isn’t any meat in front of you, it doesn’t mean it’s necessary healthy. Though pizza and beer technically fall under the vegetarian diet, it’s not a healthy choice for your waist line.

Just because being a vegetarian is associated with a healthier lifestyle in many cases, doesn’t mean it’s always true. Making bread and pasta your staples and not understanding where your protein sources should be coming from, can pack on body fat, which increases your chances of health issues such as diabetes and chronic inflammation.

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If the choice to go vegetarian happens on a whim without the proper understanding of food control, portion, and nutritionally dense alternatives you can find yourself reaching for vegetarian foods, which could cause serious problems down the road. Nuts are a good example, but just because something is touted as healthy, it doesn’t mean, your should eat it in excess.

Eating too many calories in fat will still cause you to gain weight. Eating too many calories in carbs will cause you to gain weight. Eating too many calories in protein will cause you to gain weight. See a pattern here? Not to mention you’ll miss out on important nutrients the body needs by over-eating in one area and under-eating in another. Re-read number 2.

4. You could have a higher risk of heart disease

Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables should be a goal we all strive for, but when you cut out meat, you also cut out what is known as complete protein, which you find in animal by-products. Complete means more than just the essential amino acids, it means those amino acids contain dietary sulfur. Without enough dietary sulfur, which is found almost exclusively in fish and pasture feed grass beef, the body will struggle with the biological activities of both protein and enzymes.

The effects cascade downward, effecting bones, joints, tissues, and even metabolic issues. In short, a low intake of sulfur associated with a vegetarian diet can result in high blood levels of homocysteine, which may lead to blood clots in your arteries, blood clots raise your risk of stroke and heart attack. To read the full report click here.

5. You could suffer from low cholesterol

I know, at first you’re thinking, wait, low cholesterol is a good thing. Yes, it is, when it’s LDL cholesterol, which you get from eating an unhealthy diet, but low HDL (good cholesterol) can cause serious health issues. HDL, according to the mayo clinic, is in every cell in our body and can help fend off heart disease, not enough of it though, and too much LDL can go the other way, will be building up plaque in the arteries and leading to heart disease.

Cholesterol, the good kind, is actually vitally important to the making of every steroid hormone in the body! There are six, and without cholesterol the body is unable to convert hormones, and it can cause damage in the endocrine system.

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A vegetarian without a balanced diet, meaning enough protein, enough veggies, and enough good fats, could disrupt his or her adrenals, which are directly connected to the endocrine system and the body’s ability to make and synthesize the hormones your body needs. The six major hormones in the body help do everything from metabolizing carbohydrates, to the electrolyte balance, to making sure if you’re a woman you can carry a healthy baby through pregnancy.

6. You could suffer from lower bone density and osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis, the disease where the bones get thinner, weaker, and fractures become a high risk with day to day movements. It’s often associated with the older generation, but your risk for osteoporosis increases with a lower bone density. Bone density can be directly related to diet and lifestyle, along with many other factors.

When it comes to eating a vegetarian diet it’s possible to miss getting enough of the right nutrients, causing the bones to begin to break down. If your vegetarian diet isn’t balanced and providing you with the correct nutrients and the means to absorb the correct nutrients, your body could begin to break down.

Recently, Professor Tuan Nguyen of Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research led a review of both Australian and Vietnamese research around the bone density of vegetarian versus their meat eating counterparts. Helping Professor Nguyen was Dr. Ho-Pham Thuc Lan from Pham Ngoc Thac University of Medicine in Vietnam. The review was designed to sort though years of research surrounded by discrepancies and inadequate clinical data.

At the end of the review, with vegetarianism rising to around 5% of the populace in the western continents, and with wide spread osteoporosis reports – 2 million in Australia and closer to 54 million in America – the decrease in bone density of vegetarians is a serious issue which needs to be addressed, if you’ve cut meat and animal by-products out of your life.

7. You could be at a higher risk for colorectal cancer

Cancer seems to be running rampant through America, and it’s within everyone’s best interest to do all they can to keep their body healthy and happy to prevent cancer from finding a place to grow. In most studies it’s been found vegetarians are at lower risk for cancer, but a European Oxford study with over 63 thousand men and women in the United Kingdom found the risk for colorectal cancer higher in vegetarians than in meat-eaters.

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Extra care needs to be taken when establishing a diet to ensure the body is receiving and able to up take all the important nutritional benefits and requirements from food.

8. You could end up eating more processed food

Depending on how deep you choose to go as a vegetarian, it could create the need to substitute a lot of food and recipe ingredients in your diet, but what happens when you cut out meat, eggs, and dairy and your recipe calls for meat, eggs, and/or dairy? You have to end up using a “healthy” vegetarian alternative which include stabilizers, thickeners, and various other ingredients you can’t pronounce.

Lauren from Empowered Substance puts it into a great perspective with her comparison of Earth Balance, a vegetarian approved butter replacement compared to butter. She points out the ingredients in Earth Balance consist of: Palm fruit oil, canola oil, safflower oil, flax oil, olive oil, salt, natural flavor, pea protein, sunflower lecithin, lactic acid, annatto color. Meanwhile, the ingredient list in butter, is much shorter. It’s butter.

That’s only one example. To appeal to the vegetarian lifestyle food manufacturers have found alternatives which fall under vegetarian, but aren’t necessarily healthy for you. Consider baked goods, which though vegetarian can be filled with more sugars and binders than regular baked goods with diary products. It’s the same with vegetarian items like mac and cheese, without using real cheese you may just be getting oil and thickeners, without even the smallest amount of nutritional value.

The reality is, most vegetarian substitutes contain the same junky alternatives which even meat eaters should be avoiding to remain happy and healthy.

On one final note, whichever lifestyle you choose to work with, remember anything in excess – including protein and animal by products – isn’t healthy for the body. It takes a wide spectrum of food and nutrients to keep the beautiful body you travel around in all day running in prime condition.

 

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