6 tips to planning a wellness-boosting vacation
November 1, 2023
As Canadians, we all know that winters can really drag on. And without the mighty sun giving you your vitamin D, it can be easy to slip into a dark place—both physically and mentally.
That’s why so many Canadians head for sunnier locations during winter. A 2022 survey found that 43% of Canadians planned to vacation over the winter. In December 2022 alone, Canadian residents returned from 3.1 million trips aboard. Getting out of the Canadian winter and into some tropical sun can be a great way to refresh your body and mind.
Even beyond the Canadian winter, the positive effects of vacations on your mental health and emotional well-being have been the subject of many studies over the years. The consensus is that taking time away from work and your day-to-day life positively impacts your mental and emotional well-being.
Whether you plan to hike Machu Picchu, spend a week at an all-inclusive resort, or take a long weekend exploring a new city, your next vacation can boost your mental and emotional well-being.
With these six tips, any vacation can help alleviate your stress rather than adding to it.
1. Meditate while you are on vacation
You don’t have to go on a meditation retreat to get the benefits of meditation while on holiday. If you want to boost the already positive effects taking a holiday has on your emotional well-being, spend some time each day meditating. A study found that meditating for a few hours a week while on holiday had the same positive effect on long-term emotional well-being as going on a meditation retreat where you spend hours each day meditating.
2. Maintain your good sleep habits while travelling
Sticking to healthy sleep habits on the best days can be challenging, so it’s understandable that getting good sleep while travelling can be tricky. With the changes in time zones, red-eye flights, and packing as much into your time away as possible, sleep can sometimes fall by the wayside. The best thing you can do to maintain the good sleep hygiene you practised at home is to create a routine and stick to it. This means picking a time to wake up and go to sleep each night and only varying that by 1-2 hours at most. A routine that conforms to your time zone is also a great way to fight off jet lag, so it’s a win-win.
3. Step away from your email
While it might initially seem scary, your next vacation is a great time to undertake a digital detox. The average Canadian spends 11 hours per day in front of screens—that’s a huge amount of time. For many, most of that time is working hours, so it’s hard to step away from screens altogether. That makes your holiday the perfect time to check out from the digital world. And it doesn’t have to be an “all or nothing” thing—you can set boundaries on when you use screens and for how long. But even reducing your screen time can help you have a more restorative experience while on holiday.
4. Plan ahead
There is something to be said about spontaneity. But if you tend to be anxious, leaving all of the details of your vacation up to chance can make your time away anything but relaxing. While you don’t have to plan every moment of your trip, spend some time pre-vacation planning so you can feel in control while away.
5. Build in rest time
If you want your vacation to be a time when you can rest and unwind, it’s important to give yourself time to do those things. How many times have you gone on a holiday only to be go-go-going for seven days straight? It’s understandable—there is so much to see and do in such a short time, so you overschedule yourself. If you tend to pack every minute of your holidays with activities, schedule some time to rest. Take an afternoon nap, a luxurious bath, or spend the morning reading a book. Plan to spend some time doing whatever helps you feel relaxed and rested.
6. Keep your body moving
You might be off your normal routine, but finding ways to keep your body moving even while on holiday is essential. You might be swapping the gym for an aqua aerobics class or walking in your neighbourhood for a leisurely stroll on the beach, but all movement is good! It may look different than at home, but staying physically active will help you enjoy your vacation and boost your overall physical and mental well-being. Your body will thank you for it.
No matter what kind of vacation you’re planning, you can make your time away from work restorative with a bit of intention. And these six tips are a great place to start!
Please always check with a medical professional to ensure these strategies are right for you.
Other resources you may be interested in:
- S1E1: Better than drinking from the fountain of youth (podcast)
- S1E2: Is sleep the key to living a long life? (podcast)
- S1E3: Can physical activity slow the decline of aging? (podcast)
- S1E4: Aging, anxiety, and the effects of stress on the body (podcast)
- S1E5: The power and science of building healthy habits (podcast)