Getting away from work or a routine at home is a tried and true remedy for stress relief and mental rejuvenation.
However, taking the correct amount of time off can make a difference for returning with renewed vigor, or coming back from a vacation loaded with new stress.
Moreover, the small or even unplanned activity may provide more stress relief than a long vacation.
“Although vacations themselves rank fairly low on the list of stressors, they combine elements like travel, sleep disruption and food changes that can themselves be stressful,” explained Christopher Robinson, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at University of Alabama – Birmingham.
However, the anticipation of a vacation can put people in a better mood or provide a mental perk, said Robinson.
Robinson offers the following tips to maximize the short-term increase of happiness vacations provide:
- Take shorter trips throughout the year instead of only one long vacation
- Sprinkle spontaneous weekend getaways into the schedule
- Request a morning off after an evening out to extend the break.
Whether it is hiking or camping, a relaxed family game night, golf, going to the beach or getting a baby sitter and having an evening out with one’s partner or friends, Robinson encouraged fitting in regular mental health breaks.
“I find that regularly taking time to sit around a fire pit with friends helps me de-stress far better than involved vacations with tons of planning,” Robinson said.
“While what’s relaxing varies from person to person, any time off that offers an escape from the everyday can help.”