Packing for Vacation: How to Leave Stress Behind

Dreading going back to work? Convinced you’re going to snap if you have to do yet another denture adjustment? Making free time count and actually doing something towards re-charging yourself can be a challenge sometimes. Moving from a fast-paced, stressful environment into an environment suddenly devoid of the challenges we are used to facing can leave the brain still in a highly activated state, searching for problems to resolve. This can lead to anxiety, irritability and a general sense of dissatisfaction despite the change in scene.

Focus.
The best way to calm a highly activated brain is to focus it. Mindfulness-based stress reduction is a proven technique based on awareness of one’s surroundings rather than introspection like most meditation techniques, and is much easier for an ordinary person to use effectively.

Plan.
Research has shown that the action of planning or list-making reduces anxiety. Even if your list is comprised of items like , "go swimming, take a nature walk, have lunch at that treehouse café," taking the time to write them out can help clear the slate and prepare your brain for the experience, allowing you to relax and more deeply enjoy the experience.

Be Present.
Often, stress can increase "disconnection" behaviors that disconnect one from one’s surroundings like checking the cell phone phone, picking at loose threads or having that third margarita. Try to be aware of these behaviors and acknowledge when they occur, then try to move on to a more engaging activity. Although our societal depiction of "ultimate relaxation" is lying on the beach, more engrossing activities which hold our attention in fact provide a longer-lasting anxiolytic effect.

Sources:
8 Ways To Vacation Right And Recharge Your Health. (2017). HuffPost. Retrieved 20 June 2017, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/8-ways-to-vacation-right-and-recharg...

Stress Reduction, Mindfulness & Relaxation | MIT Medical. (2017). Medical.mit.edu. Retrieved 20 June 2017, from https://medical.mit.edu/community/stress-reduction

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