The holidays are supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. Sadly, millions of Americans find themselves dreading the holidays each year. There are many reasons why our levels of stress might increase during this time of year, from crowds to insecurities about our weight to anxiety over seeing certain relatives.
Although holiday travel makes the list of stressors for many people, multiple studies have shown travel actually is good for our mental and emotional health. Any globetrotter could tell you it reduces your risk of anxiety and depression, lowers stress levels, and improves your mood. In fact, travel might even provide physical health benefits as well, including better brain function and lower blood pressure.
If you decide that a vacation might be the best way to escape this holiday season, there are some things to consider first. Whether you’re visiting family, taking a solo trip, or going on a getaway with your partner this holiday season, here are some tips on how you can enjoy a relaxing and stress-free holiday vacation:
Take advantages of vacation-planning websites and apps such as Tripit to help organize your travel plans. It goes without saying that you’ll need to give your employer some notice before simply taking off on vacation. When it comes to holiday travel, this can be a particularly busy time of year for traveling so you’ll get the cheapest fares if you book in advance.
If you’re flying, you can sign up for airfare discount sites or search and compare rates on Kayak, Google Flights, and similar sites to find the best deals. If you can be flexible with your travel dates and times, especially if you’re willing to fly in the middle of the week, you can often get a cheaper deal on your plane tickets.
Give Yourself Time
Since the roads and airports will be flooded with travelers like yourself this time of year, allow for some extra travel time. If your airport recommends arriving two hours early, consider arriving even earlier than that. The longer lines, busier roads, and heightened security are less stressful if you’re not in a rush.
Get a massage. Take a yoga class by the beach. Indulge yourself in a pampering spa with a sauna and hot tub. Spend your time taking part in activities that clear your mind and bring you a sense of peace, whatever that looks like to you.
Protect Your Home
Before you leave, you should take proper security precautions to ensure your home is protected while you are away. This will allow you to more fully relax on your vacation without constantly worrying about break-ins, fires, or other issues with your home while you’re gone.
Beyond locking all of your doors and windows and setting the alarm, some home security measures to take might include: unplugging appliances, asking a trusted neighbor to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity while you’re gone, and moving any “hidden keys” elsewhere. If all else fails, consider hiring a house sitter while you’re away.
If you’ve followed the advice listed above, you’ll hopefully be on your way to a lower-stress, more relaxing holiday escape. Of course, unexpected circumstances might still occur. If something outside of your control happens during your trip, try to take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that it is just a temporary setback. Listening to relaxing music, staying hydrated, and even going for a quiet walk can help you soothe yourself so you can still enjoy your holiday vacation, regardless of what happens while you’re away.
Henry is the co-creator of FitWellTraveler. The site blends two of his favorite subjects (travel and health) to provide readers with information about how to get the most out of both. He believes travel can change you, and good health preserves you. He combines both in his work on FitWellTraveler.