Science is here to help you through all of your life queries, now it is even here to help you plan your next holiday. That’s right, science has revealed the perfect way to plan your getaway, to have maximum benefits on your mental health.
Researchers into mental health, wellbeing and vacation psychology have long preached the benefits of holidays for our overall happiness. Although we don’t need anyone to convince us holidays are a good idea, now researchers have developed a foolproof way to make the most of your time spent outside of work.
1. Focus on the beginning and the end of your holiday to maximise continued happiness
The worst part about any holiday is having to leave. Psychologist Jessica De Bloom conducted a study into the lasting effects of holiday bliss and found that within as little as a week of returning to work, the salubrious effects of your holiday glow have all but worn off.
Her researchers found that spending more time relaxing, as opposed to frantically travelling from one place to the next in order to experience as much as possible in a short period of time, was beneficial for receiving long-lasting effects from your holiday.
You want to begin your holiday ready for a break and end it feeling well rested and ready to start again.
2. Partake in unique experiences or something you’ve never done before
Although your favourite island might be your go-to when you think about taking time off, studies suggest that travelling to new places and having new experiences provides a more memorable and therefore long-lasting impression.
“Once we’ve already seen somewhere we’re not necessarily absorbing what’s new about it. People who always go to the same place will often start to have memories blur,” said psychologist Dr. Samantha Boardman.
In terms of happiness, experiences are shown to provide more realistic effects on wellbeing, over material goods.
“When one buys an experience, they seem to be buying themselves a story as well,” said Dr. Amit Kumar, a social psychologist and postdoctoral researcher at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business who studies the relationship between money and happiness. “So one way vacations continue to provide hedonic benefits even after they’ve long since passed is because they live on in the stories we tell.”
3. Plan your trip ahead of time
Studies suggest that the anticipation of a holiday, as well as the joy we get from planning and dreaming of a trip, should be extended as much as possible.
Ian Cole spoke about the importance of anticipation in a recent TED Talk, where he suggested the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ mentality was enough to push the individual through hard and stressful times.
4. Don’t stress about the limited time you can get off work
In a study conducted by Dr De Bloom, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Tampere in Finland, researchers found that the perfect amount of time to holiday was in fact, as little as eight days.
Her suggestion? Take smaller, more regular holidays to improve overall happiness.
“Holidays work more like sleep. You need regular recovery from work in order to stay healthy in the long run.”