Time Out

Enhance Your Vacation--and Your Health--With these Mindful Tips



Taking a vacation—getting away from work and everyday schedules—is more than a fun diversion. It’s vital to spiritual health and de-stressing.

Dr. Munro Cullum, a psychiatrist and neurologist, who leads UT Southwestern Medical Center’s division of psychology at the University of Texas, confirms that, “Our brains need a rest now and then.”

Flooded with to-dos and ever more things to remember—passwords, PIN numbers, computer procedures, appointments and email, et al—we can become overwhelmed by the daily demands of our busy society. “Vacations,” advises Cullum, offer an opportune time “to recharge and do things that are outside the normal daily routine.”

A healthy vacation, experts suggest, provides lasting mind/body benefits. Following these tips will get us there:

Choose an eco-friendly destination with care. Supporting green resorts affords peace of mind and helps the planet. Seek accommodations that carry environmental-friendly certifications or memberships in green industry associations, such as Green Seal (GreenSeal.org) or Best Green Hotels (EnvironmentallyFriendlyHotels.com).

Be mindful of ways to conserve resources. When possible, take public transportation or rent a smart car. Use a digital camera, rather than disposable or other film cameras. Conserve energy in hotel rooms by turning off lights; use water wisely; reuse towels and sheets. Also avoid room service, which requires additional packaging and linens.

Keep a loose itinerary. Instead of rushing from place to place or activity to activity, be receptive to a slower pace and live in the moment. Try to do something creative each day, like jotting notes or sketching in a journal; this type of right-brain activity centers us in the present and connects us with our inner selves. Brief periods of meditation or focused breathing also help sustain balance.

Maintain healthy habits. Eat wisely, get enough rest and exercise moderately.

Be open to some self-indulgence, too. Time spent pleasurably reinforces a sense of well-being, whether it’s an invigorating hike, beautifully prepared meal, side trip to an art museum, soothing facial or hours spent engrossed in a bestseller.

Once it’s time to come home, preserve a vacation’s restorative benefits by following this three-step process: First, find a meaningful memento to bring back, one that holds special memories. Use this as an inspirational talisman. Next, return a day early, before the world calls. Allowing gentle reentry time eases the transition. Finally, begin planning another vacation right away. As Dr. Dan Baker, psychologist and author of What Happy Companies Know, points out, “Planning a vacation often is almost as much fun as taking one.”


Primary Source: UTSouthwestern.org

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