0 Comments | Apr 22, 2010

Top 5 Ways to Get Well on Vacation

  • Share

Congratulations – you’re going on vacation! Maybe you’re getting ready to take advantage of your Vacation Wellness benefit from work, or you saved long enough to afford a full-price vacation. Maybe you spent the time to plan the details yourself, or had your Vacation Wellness program do the planning work for you. Regardless of how you planned your vacation or how much you paid for it, you want to get the maximum benefit out of your time and money. That means you want to have as much fun as possible, but also experience the full health and relaxation benefits vacationing offers.

Believe it or not, a group of doctors at the Medical University of Vienna studied the factors that influence the degree of health benefit that vacationers experience, and arrived at a set of guidelines to help you get the greatest wellness benefit from your time away from the grind. The report is astoundingly boring to read, but we’ll save you the trouble:

Make this kind of scene part of your wellness scene!

  1. Go someplace warm and sunny! Find a warm beach somewhere with your name on it, and don’t be afraid to grab a few rays. While excessive sun exposure obviously isn’t the point, moderate sunlight has powerful mood, attitude, outlook, and health enhancing effects. And warmer temperatures – particularly for denizens of cold winter climates – enhance the positive results.
  2. Schedule time to do nothing. Don’t pack your vacation full of activities, events, side trips, and parties to the exclusion of a good amount of unscheduled free time. Not having to be anywhere at any specific time allows your mind to unwind, and allows you to gain mental distance from the obligations of daily life. Gaining perspective reduces stress, lowers depression risk, enhances coping mechanisms, and boosts the health benefits of your vacation.
  3. Exercise. At home, all of the incredibly powerful exercise-induced positive brain and body chemistry effects are counterbalanced by the stress hormones that daily life induces. Those stress hormones are drastically reduced while you’re on vacation (unless you’re “vacationing” at the in-laws,’ but that’s a topic for another time). The whole is greater than the sum of the parts – exercising on vacation multiplies the benefits of both exercise and vacationing.
  4. Sleep. If you like to party like a rock star, plan to do that early on during your vacation so you have enough time to return rested and recuperated. Scientists have discovered that improperly-folded protein chains, which degrade the ability of every cell in the body to function properly, are purged from your cells only during sleep. Lack of rest has a very real physical consequence, but you can do your body a great deal of good by allowing time for plenty of shuteye while you’re on vacation. You should plan to sleep until you get tired of sleeping.
  5. Meet new friends. Be social. Reconnect with important people in your life. Humans are social animals, and all sorts of positive mental processes happen as we get to know and like new people.

So, enjoy your vacation! Take lots of pictures, have tons of fun, and be sure to get the most wellness bang for your relaxation buck.