Blog Post

Happy holidays

Up, up and away… maybe not this year though?

A strange year, like we have never experienced. But it’s August, hopefully time for some ‘time out’.

I love holidays!

I really live for them. That said, I don’t know many people who don’t. Although, strangely enough my own father doesn’t. Hates them, never goes, ever. I had to get married to ensure that he came over to England to see me.

2019 is an example year. Although, in my defence I visited fiends and/or family on every trip except France – which was a 40th birthday celebration.

When I started to look into holidays in more detail, it turns out that I was right all along – they aren’t just a good time, they are really important for good mental health. In countries with developed economies, holidays are considered normal, essential even, and not just a luxury. Turns out, there is no universally accepted definition of a holiday, though some of the experts say it has to be over four nights away from home. But what is understood by the lucky people who do research in this area, is that having a break has multiple benefits.

Having a break is actually good for you

Time out

The personal benefits centre on having time out from your everyday routine, which means you get a break from worries and stress as well. A holiday can break the stress cycle, provide time and space for reflection and gaining perspective, and refresh your resilience, meaning you come back stronger and ready to tackle life again.

Time out together

If you go on holidays with a partner or family, there are benefits for the relationship too. A holiday together strengthens the relationship bonds by creating shared memories. Also, being away from phones/computers/social media/games consoles means that there is fuller and more meaningful interaction between families and partners without distractions.

Read more about the personal and relationship benefits in research from Nottingham Civic Exchange and the Family Holiday Association.

Even when things go wrong on holiday it can end up as a positive, something to laugh over later, and becomes the stuff of legends. For example, my husband and I were in Crete with a friend and we all got diarrhoea, probably from something we ate. Of course, it wasn’t very funny at the time. But the story of trying to find a toilet at a remote beach and bogging the car in the sand has led to a hilarious story that we love to retell. This shared experience has also brought us closer together; turns out there is nothing like sharing toilet stories to break the taboos in a friendship. And strangely enough, we all agree that this holiday was one of the best we’ve ever had.

It’s not so rosy for everyone

The sobering thought, though, is that lots of people can’t afford a holiday. Research from 2011 found that 45% of Europeans don’t take a holiday, and the main reason is financial. I imagine that this year even less people will be taking a holiday because of the effects of the pandemic.

Having an effective staycation

Southampton Common: you don’t have to go far for a beautiful sunset

If you aren’t going to manage an away holiday this year there are still ways to fool your body and mind into thinking it has had a break. I found some recommendations for an effective staycation (turns out that phrase was coined back in 2010!). A bit of positive thinking, and getting your brain and body active can have the same effect as a holiday, without the costs. Taking advantage of cheap gym rates over the summer, learning a new skill or hobby, and being a tourist in your local area are all examples of how to do it.

Yoga on holidays

Although the research shows that we come back from holidays with improved physical health, I always feel that I have let my fitness routine go. And whilst it’s important not to feel guilty about this, because the point is to take a break from normal life, I do want to give you my tips to help you fit in some yoga whilst you’re away.

If you have ever tried to do yoga or a workout on holidays you’ll know that it can be difficult to find the space. Unless you are very lucky, most holiday accommodation has just enough room next to the bed to lay your mat. And then what? The yoga we do in the ‘studio’ can be expansive, wind milling the arms about into warrior II and triangle, which doesn’t suit a cramped space between bed and wall.

Not my holiday reality!

I have experienced it too, and so I came up with a sequence of moves that you can do when you don’t have lots of space. In class and on video this month the focus is on those moves which take the arms out in front, and keep the hips facing forwards. Also, we are doing stretches that you can do to take the tension out of your body after a long day travelling, walking around a new city, or to help if you have trouble sleeping in a different bed.

I have made a simple page of the moves I recommend. Of course, I hope you’ll come to class to try them out, or sign up for video membership!

And I’d love to know if you have any tips for staying local, but still feeling like you’ve had a holiday.

Happy holidays,

Bethany.

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