Vacations might be entertaining while they last, but they might not have many lingering benefits when it comes to raising your happiness or to reducing stress for the long term. Once the vacation has ended, your happiness can quickly fall back to its baseline level. In fact, many of us get the most happiness from planning and anticipating the vacation as opposed to actually being on vacation. Any post-vacation happiness can be affected by the amount of relaxation or stress one has during the vacation. If the trip can be described as stressful or even neutral, there will likely be no happiness benefit post-vacation.
Sure, vacations can be good at reducing your stress levels while you’re on your trip and might even improve them long-term if you let yourself relax. It’s common for people to reach an epiphany on vacation. They’re able to view their home life from an outsider’s detached view, which can give them a better sense of not just who they are but also how they truly wish to live their life.
That raises the question: how can you take your vacation, have less stress, and get the effects to last for more than just a couple of days after you get home?
Make it Fit Your Style
Think about the things that you love doing as opposed to what you should be doing. Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to give up some of the things you “should” be doing. Especially if you enjoy them. Take exercise, for example. Many people like to keep up with their workouts while on vacation, and there’s nothing wrong with that if you find them relaxing, or you love the rush you get from them. This might even be a good time to try something new! If you are headed to Texas for your vacation, check out some hot yoga or a spin class Frisco residents are thrilled with.
Make It Relaxing
If you don’t feel relaxed on your vacation, the chances are good that it won’t reduce your stress and be enjoyable. If you love to golf, why not make sure to get a tee time while you’re away? This will be both enjoyable and relaxing. If you happen to be traveling with small children, you might even consider getting them enrolled in a half-day camp or find a sitter for the evenings so that you’ll have the time you need to relax.
Balance Your Activities
When you’re on vacation – even a good murder mystery-themed vacation – you should alternate your time between resting and staying active. Being active will raise those feel-good endorphins. Resting and quieting your mind will reduce your levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline.
Take Mini Vacays
As mentioned above, people tend to find enjoyment in anticipating and planning their vacations. Because of this, taking a few mini-vacations throughout the year can actually raise your happiness more than taking a single vacation. If money is an issue, which it is for most of us, there are always free things to do no matter where you are. Also, mini-vacations allow you to enjoy getting away a few times each year. Opposed to just once and then having to wait another whole year before your next trip.
Finally, remember that you need to buffer your time away. If you work until the minute you leave and then head right back to work as soon as you return, it adds more stress. If it’s at all possible, try to have a day off before you leave and then another one between returning and going back to work. This will allow you the opportunity to ease back into life a bit more slowly.