Are you one of those people who starts pining for long Summer holidays in January? We’re all aware that taking time off is important for the sake of our mental health and overall wellbeing, and after 6 to 8 months of waiting and saving up, you’re probably bursting with plans and daydreams of R&R in an exotic location.
But sometimes that build up can be super stressful, leaving you feeling like you’re going to need a vacation from your vacation – sound familiar? If so, you're not alone. For the sake of your mental health, not only should you take vacations, but taking more frequent, short trips can in fact help combat stress naturally long-term.
With everything going on in our world today, it comes as no surprise that more and more people are switching up their holiday routines. According to Enterprise Rent-A-Car's annual weekend getaway survey, 43% of people say that stress is the top reason they choose to escape on short breaks in 2018 more than any other year before (1) – everyone’s getting on board with the idea of ‘small-cations’.
A small-cation is different from a stay-cation, where the former is simply taking more frequent, short trips that are close to home with a small budget, leaving you feeling refreshed, energised and less stressed. And these small bursts of ‘freedom’ do much more than longer planned out holidays – think of those nights when your mind can’t switch off from work stress and you battle insomnia but console yourself by sleeping in all weekend. Binge sleeping just doesn't provide the same benefits as getting proper healthy sleep throughout the week. Similar to other pleasures in life, – indulging in a favourite food, seeing friends and fun activities – being able to participate in them more often is better than simply once a year.
How to beat holiday stress
Here are some ideas to help you get started with planning your small-cations, avoid post holiday blues and embrace shorter breaks in order to relieve stress in your daily routine:
1. Long, drawn-out holidays once a year can be super exciting as they come with tons of anticipation – but all you have to do is apply this same mindset to your shorter small-cations. Get motivated with more trips to look forward to, after all, you’ll pack in way more adventures and experiences into your world.
2. On the other hand, many people stress out over complicated planning and expenses when it comes to long trips. There’s the pressure of having to have a perfect holiday and the inevitable issues with flights and weather for example. Whereas expectations on short vacations are lower and less stressful. A small amount of planning and time away can reap large rewards.
3. It's easier to disconnect on a shorter trip than on a longer one. On long vacations, it often takes people a few days to disconnect from work and get into 'vacation mode'. The idea of a stack of emails waiting for them on return can itself spoil the holiday. During short getaways, people know it's just a couple of days, and they're more able to turn off work for a brief period, knowing they'll be able to check emails and deal with any work issues in a few days.
4. Understand your motivation for resisting shorter, more frequent getaways. Are you trying to satisfy someone else’s expectation? You may be surprised to discover the many mental health benefits of taking a small trip. You know that in this short amount of time, you can really let go and focus on your adventure rather than stressing about everything back home.
5. Choose what type of holiday you want and stick to it. Whether it’s a relaxing or invigorating one, a small-cation is designed to be manageable and not make you feel overwhelmed.
So think about how many amazing experiences you can have if you opt out of the typical one or two long holidays a year, instead going for shorter bursts of adventure or calm. Your wellbeing and stress levels will thank you for it.