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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 July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

More About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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