You’ve been waiting all year and the time has finally come: annual leave! As you excitedly switch on your out of office reply you start fantasising about your time off; all the things you’ll do, the places you’ll go, the dinners (and the wine!), but have you ever come back from a week away somehow feeling more stressed and just as tired as before? Sometimes the pressure to have an Instagram-worthy holiday can mean that you spend half your vacation stressing about what you should be doing instead of enjoying yourself.
Relaxing is serious business
Being an adult is hard. A study from 2018 revealed that ‘74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope’. This is shocking enough, but the study goes on to show that women are experiencing stress at a much higher rate than men. All this means that finding time to properly relax and destress should be a priority for the modern woman.
So how can you make sure your holiday is full of rest and relaxation?
Plan – at least a little
If you’re like me and you hate planning anything in advance don’t let this first piece of advice scare you off. You don’t need to spend hours creating a step by step itinerary (unless that’s your thing!), but you should make a note of the key things you want to see/do/experience on this trip. If you are an art fiend, research the top galleries and decide which one you just have to visit. If you travel to eat (like me), make a list of the things you just can’t forget to try whilst away. Don’t give yourself too much ground to cover though; pick the most important things for you and then go do them!
Allow yourself a good amount of time to simply chill out, especially when you first arrive, and don’t beat yourself up if you have a few lie ins/hangovers – you’re on holiday! How often do you get to sleep until midday on a Monday? Savour it! Indulge in it!
It is a truth universally acknowledged that tourist attractions suck. The crowds of people, the heat, the pickpockets are all a recipe for stress, but that doesn’t mean you should miss out on some truly mind-blowing sights. Limit tourist spots to one per day. That way you still get to visit the famous landmarks (and get the perfect new profile pic) without getting burned out.
Choose your travel buddy wisely
It’s important to travel with someone you trust and get along with. Someone who understands when you need your alone time. Holidays can really test a friendship so don’t forget that travelling solo can be one of the most empowering and exciting experiences of your life.
This is the absolute best way to get to know a new place and if you’ve chosen a sunny get away why spend half your time sweating uncontrollably inside a crowded bus or metro car? This is also the best way to discover untouched, authentic gems. Plus, numerous studies have shown how walking, particularly outdoors and in green spaces, can reduce stress
levels and boost endorphins which can improve both your mood and even your self-esteem.
This one goes without saying.
Don’t forget a small bag
You’re on holiday. You don’t want to feel weighed down by that same handbag you squeeze on to the tube every morning back home. Leave everything non-essential in your hotel and chuck some money, your ID and your phone into a mini bag. Whatever your style, camo backpack, retro bumbag or Dior clutch, make sure it’s small and easy to carry around all day (and probably all night) long!
Stay off your phone: try to be more present
At the risk of sounding like your mother, don’t miss out on fully experiencing your holiday by staying glued to your phone. Use this time away to take a break from your friends’ Instagram stories and stop comparing yourself to that social influencer who seems to actually live in 5* hotels. Recent studies have found that excessive usage of your smartphone can lead to ‘severe anxiety and tiredness’ so try taking a holiday from your phone and see just how great you’ll feel by the time you get home.