Tips from a psychologist for a perfect staycation!

Taking a vacation may look different this year, but that’s no reason not to take one. Take this opportunity to enjoy a much-deserved break and stem the tide of stress that’s accumulated over these last year.

Updated May 5, 2021

Sylvie Boucher, psychologist and life coach, reminds us of the many physical and mental benefits of vacations and offers her advice on how to make the most of this time off.

Vacations aren’t a nice-to-have—they’re a must-have.

During this stressful and anxiety-inducing time, vacations are more than a welcome respite—they’re essential to our health.

They’re an opportunity to unplug, step away from our regular routine and obligations for a little while and remove the pressure to be productive. Of course, there will always be people who want to keep busy, even on vacation. But even then, they can be engaged in activities that generate feelings of wellbeing, happiness and personal satisfaction.

“What’s important is to enjoy quality time and fully appreciate your everyday life for the gift it is.”

Tips for a successful staycation

Obviously, spending our vacation at home and not being able to travel may seem pretty boring if we’re used to packing up and heading off anywhere we wanted. But if we can take this constraint as a challenge, we might be surprised to find a staycation more enjoyable than we’d thought!

A slower pace

We have to adjust our expectations and change our habits. The goal is to reduce stress, improve our mental and physical health and hit the reset button. And less stress often means better sleep, along with a better, more open and light-hearted mood!

Slow down and do things differently

If we can let go of housework and the daily grind, our home can become a true sanctuary.
One way to make being at home feel more like a vacation is to treat ourselves to little pleasures we wouldn’t normally indulge in.

Cultivate positive emotions

Start your vacation with the right mindset by cultivating positive emotions every day. Here are a few ideas:

  • Engage in activities that reflect your interests and skills
  • Set up a little reading nook on the patio and start that novel that’s been lying on your nightstand for months
  • Try some new dishes or old family favourites while listening to your favourite music, a glass of wine in hand!
  • Find gardening relaxing? There’s never been a better time to dig in the dirt!
  • You can now visit certain parks and attractions in your area. They’re yours to discover—or rediscover!

Really, this a great time to engage in anything you find enjoyable!

Reactivate your social life

The quality of our social lives is an important factor in our mental health, and being able to reconnect with family and friends after this difficult time of self-isolation will be a real blessing this summer (while keeping a safe distance, of course). This opportunity to enjoy time with loved ones isn’t always possible when we’re off travelling, so let’s take advantage!

Propose a walk outside, an impromptu picnic or simply drinks in the garden while social distancing—there are many ways to enjoy time with friends and family.

A chance to take stock

After a few days of transition, once you’ve settled into vacation mode, you might naturally find yourself thinking about where you’re at vis a vis your life and career.

Staycations can also be the perfect opportunity to reflect on our life choices, values and goals. Many people have found themselves thinking about these bigger questions in these last few months.

A vacation is a unique opportunity to see things in a new light, reconnect with what’s important to us, make any needed adjustments and prepare for what’s next.

“If we don’t feel excited about going back to work, for example, it’s time to ask ourselves some questions. Work is such a big part of our lives, it’s important that we find it fulfilling.”

Cultivate gratitude

Vacations are also about appreciating our lives and our everyday, and finding delight in them.

Being grateful for what we have is an important part of our mental and emotional wellbeing and an excellent guage of our peace of mind and personal satisfaction. We cultivate gratitude by not comparing ourselves to others and by appreciating our many blessings.

Gratitude isn’t just about material possessions.

“Far from it! Health, family, our outlook on life, our ability to overcome challenges, our spirituality, our goals. We should be proud of all this personal “wealth” we’ve built and keep working to preserve it!”

Although we may feel constrained by the current situation, the fact remains that being able to vacation close to home means we have a home—and a vacation. And don’t lose hope; the situation continues to evolve.

Let’s not underestimate the many mental and physical benefits of vacations and their power to reenergize us. Enjoy your time off!

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