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Last Updated on October 2, 2017

Why Staycation Is the New Vacation for Every Travel Lover

Why Staycation Is the New Vacation for Every Travel Lover

Everyone loves a vacation. I get it. But have you noticed that vacations aren’t always the most rejuvenating experiences?

We usually go on vacation to relax and experience something new and fresh. And sometimes we choose to have a fun-filled trip – perhaps packed with adventures.

However, if your main purpose for taking a vacation is to get some well-deserved rest, then you may be disappointed. Just think of all the preparation and planning that must go into every trip. As an example, here’s what most people would need to do to organize a typical 7-day trip:

1 month preparation – consisting of planning/arranging the trip. 2 days of long driving, bus, boat, train or air traveling. 1 day to tackle jet lag caused by the trip. Several hours within the trip packing and unpacking stuff. 4 days where you can really enjoy your vacation.

After returning home, you may need several hours to unpack your stuff. And… another day to deal with jet lag. Then a few days later (or immediately after), you go to work, feeling even more exhausted than before the holidays.

What’s abundantly clear, is that the time spent on planning and traveling drains your personal energy. Booking flights and hotels, packing, unpacking, traveling time, etc, all deplete your mental and physical energies.

Vacations are nice, but if they can also be an energy-killer, is there an alternative way to spend our spare time?

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Yes, there is. It’s called staycations.

The Oxford Dictionary describes staycations as,[1]

“A holiday spent in one’s home country rather than abroad, or one spent at home and involving day trips to local attractions.”

Staycations offer similar things to what vacations do (e.g., relaxation, refreshment, experiencing new things), but because they don’t involve long traveling, they cost you a lot less. It’s not just financial savings, you’ll also cut out the time and stress of planning, that typically make up the preparations for a vacation.

Let’s take a look at the great things about taking a staycation.

Give you almost 100% of restful time with little to no prep

Stop to consider the following: the ratio of quality time that’s spent on relaxation is more important than the number of days for holidays.

If you give this some thought, you’ll realize that it’s true. For instance, a weekend break that consists of long travel on either side is no recipe for relaxation.

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This is one of the reasons that staycations are more refreshing than vacations. They act as genuine breaks from work and life pressures. Instead of losing time and energy preparing for a vacation, a staycation will provide you with high-quality resting time.

Pause for a moment, and just think of all the effort that goes into the typical vacation… long travelling, packing/unpacking, jet lag, etc. As I mentioned earlier, a vacation can leave you more tired than before your trip!

Fortunately, a staycation is not at all like that. You’ll get back to work feeling more refreshed, relaxed and rejuvenated.

A vacation may only offer around 50% of relaxation time, while with a staycation, you can count on almost 100%!

Fresh experience just around the corner

Staycations also tick some of the same boxes as vacations like experiencing new things, you just need to explore nearby things which you have never paid attention to.

Often we over look the attractions that are near to us, choosing instead to spend big amounts of money to visit foreign countries. However, if you make an effort to explore the area close to where you live, you may be pleasantly surprised. There will be cafés and restaurants you’ve never tried, historic buildings you’ve never seen before, and nature parks you’ve never visited.

Notice the phrase “you’ve never” in the above sentence. You may have convinced yourself that to see new things you need to travel overseas. But with a little effort on your part, you’ll be able to experience new and exciting things close to home.

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Make old place feels new and amusing

Even for places you’ve been to before, a new mindset will bring you new experiences. A little twist to what you do and how you do it can bring a new experience to the place where you go often.

For instance, you may normally drive past a canal on your way to work and think nothing of it. However, on your day off, why not drive to the canal and take a walk alongside it? You may be amazed by how the sun glistens on the surface of the water, how colorful the canal boats are, and how much beautiful wildlife has made their home by the canal.

It’s the same with local parks. Maybe you usually just walk pass them, why not try taking advantage of their space and greenery? You could picnic there, play with pets there, or just relax and watch the activities of others.

And if your village, town or city has a central square, try grabbing a coffee, sitting in the square and simply watching the world go by…

Different times, days and seasons will have their own unique flavors. For example, Friday evenings may be more of a time for couples, Saturday mornings may be family-orientated.

Whether you choose a park bench, or a seat on the veranda of a café, the fresh air and daylight will be a potent combination in boosting your energy and well-being. You don’t have to spend the time people watching, you could just read a book, listen to music, or simply close your eyes and enjoy an inner peace and quiet.

Ideas to make your staycation exotic

Struggling to think of things to do on staycations? Don’t worry, as the list I’ve put together below will give you plenty of ideas.

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Take a different seat when you go to the same old place.

We’re all products of our habits. We get out of bed on the same side, we have the same breakfast, we leave the house at the same time, etc. While habits are useful for getting things done, when it comes to breaking free from our stresses – it’s good to try something different. One of the easiest ways to do this, is to choose a different seat or table when you next go to your regular café, restaurant or bar. You’ll get a different view, and a different experience.

Visit your usual places – but at a different time.

As well as trying out different seats, when not try different times too? For instance, if the only time you ever eat out is in an evening, perhaps it’s time for something new. You could join your work colleagues for lunch, or even arrange to meet some friends for breakfast. And if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you could even organize a midnight feast!

Bring different people with you.

If you love walking to the top of hills and mountains, but you usually choose to do this alone, next time – bring along some friends. Not only will you have good company to talk to during your adventures, but you’ll be able to share your joy of walking through nature with your friends. They’ll benefit, and you will too.

Try something new in the usual place.

It’s easy to get into a routine of doing the same in the same place. But you’ll provide yourself with a welcome boost by trying new stuff. For example you can try this in a restaurant you go usually. If you normally order a coffee, try an iced tea instead.

Book yourself on an ‘activity day’.

For example, you could book yourself onto an ‘activity day’ at a place local to you. How about a day learning the basics of rock climbing? Or maybe a day experiencing whitewater rafting? And if animals are your thing, you could book a day course on learning how to ride a horse. These are just a few suggestions, and I’m sure, with a bit of research, you’ll be able to find dozens more exciting activities to experience.

Still want to have that vacation?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still fantastic to travel to exotic places and to experience different cultures. Diving in warm, clear blue seas, or skiing down sun-drenched mountain slopes, may not be adventures that you can do close to home.

However, when your kids, work and financial pressures have left you feeling stressed and exhausted, then a staycation could be just the ticket you need.

You can forget about weeks of preparation, say goodbye to security checks at airports, and instead, say hello to peace and quiet. Ultimately, staycations are the ideal way to restore and revitalize your mind, body and spirit. Try one and see for yourself!

Featured photo credit: Kaboompics via kaboompics.com

Reference

[1]Oxford Dictionary: Staycation definition

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Brian Lee

Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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