How to really relax

Switch off from the start of your hols with these top tips to unwind

A quarter of all Brits take around five days to switch off on holiday, with a fifth of us saying it’s so hard to disconnect from work we never completely relax during our break. It’s symptomatic of our “switched on” culture; but never fully powering down means we’re seriously at risk of burnout. And an unbelievable 29 per cent of us find holidays more stressful than enjoyable (WHAT?). But wait! There is a better way! Make a few smart tweaks to your routine and you can be ready to reboot as soon as your plane touches down.

Look to the future

Research shows the happiest part of your holidays is actually the anticipation of it, so start your holiday early by reading travel blogs and trawling Instagram for stunning images of your destination (you’re mentally there already, right?). Get the whole family involved with building up a picture of where you’d like to go, what to see, where you’ll eat and so on, so everyone’s on the same page when you arrive. It’s been found 40 per cent of couples argue on holiday EVERY DAY! so try to thrash out any possible conflicts that could arise before you get there, such as what’s your daily budget and what do you want to get from the experience of being away. You’ll thank us in the long run!

Plane sailing

Pick a flight that makes your travel around it easy – there’s no point arriving early in the morning to squeeze the most out of your hols if you’ve spent most of the night before sleeping in an airport or waiting hours for a transfer service. Likewise, direct flights might cost the bigger bucks, but if you’re avoiding lost luggage drama and waiting for connections, it’s worth every penny. Try to think of the journey as the start of the holiday – minimum stress should come as standard.

All work and no play…

Start the wind down process before you even leave the office. Remember that a holiday REALLY is necessary. You’ll function better when you’re back in the real world if you get some quality RnR – psychologists have established that holidays have real benefits; they’ve have been shown to revitalise body and mind by distancing people from job-related stress, and, immersing people in new places, foods and social groups, may lead to original ideas and insights (promotion anyone?).

Packing it in

Start popping bits and pieces in your suitcase a few weeks before you leave as they spring to mind, and keep a list of what you’ve put in – this will prevent you from stressing about the packing process and also helps you get excited about the upcoming getaway.

Delegation’s what you need

Hand over your workload so you’re not coming back to a mountain of “To Do” lists, and empower your team to make decisions while you’re away to prevent being bombarded with a thousand emails. Set up a clear out-of-office detailing when you’ll be back, but, more importantly, who to contact to sort out immediate problems.

Find your “off” switch

In an ideal world you absolutely WILL switch off for the full term of your holiday – can you have your work email taken off your phone until you get back? If you must be contactable during your hols, then limit it to once a day, at the end of the working day, so you’re not opening yourself up to a ping-pong of emails. And unless you run the office Tweetdeck, don’t check in on work social media either!

Breathe easy

The plane gives you the perfect opportunity to ease yourself into a more relaxed state of mind. Pranayama breathing – breathing through one nostril at a time – can help lower blood pressure and your heart rate. Try this for five minutes: shut your eyes, and place your right thumb over your right nostril and breathe in through the left nostril. Now take your ring finger and place it over your left nostril and breathe out through the right nostril. Leave your hand as it is and inhale through the right nostril, then place your thumb over your right nostril and breathe out through the left. Repeat this relaxation technique for around five minutes.

Feeling handy

Try a DIY hand massage for instant relaxation. Your hands contain many acupressure and reflexology points that link to other parts of your body. You can carry a lot of tension in your hands, especially if you work at a computer. Knead the base of the muscle under the thumb to ease tension in your head, shoulders and neck for instant stress-relief.

Tee off

Pop a golf ball in your hand luggage and, once airborne, slip off your shoes and roll your feet over the ball, back and forth, for a relaxing foot massage. Studies show massage can not only reduce physical pain, but improve mood and help fight stress.

Pick a window seat

Ditch that inflight movie and spend some time gazing out of the plane window. Looking at nature has been shown to have a positive effect on mental wellbeing. And sniffing a hanky dabbed with a relaxing aromatherapy oil, such as lavender  reportedly has the same effect as anti-anxiety medications on certain neuroreceptors in the brain.

Watch your drinks!

Free alcohol on the plane, wine lunches, cheeky cocktails, drinks with dinner and a leisurely nightcap – it’s easy to end up overindulging when in the holiday spirit. Trouble is we all know the downside the next day – sluggish and snappy as your body works hard to get rid of all the nasty toxins. OK, so we don’t expect you to knock booze on the head, but try to match each glass of wine with a glass of water and drink mindfully (take time to smell, taste and fully experience your drink and notice the effect it is having on you). Remember hangovers are THE WORST in a baking hot climate.

Reeelaaaxxx the timetable

While it can be tempting to book in a list of activities to rival an Insta-model’s calender, don’t over-plan and over-organise, particularly at the beginning – we suggest keeping your first day activity-free. And regularly check in on your mood each day – do you REALLY feel like hiking to the top of the Atlas mountains, or would you actually like to be slobbing by the pool with a couple of glossy mags for company? It’s your break so make sure it’s actually that – relaxation is key.

That’s entertainment

Try to balance days when the whole family take part in activities together and others where you all do your own thing. This may mean you and your partner can have a night out and leave the kids with a babysitter or at a supervised event. Or, if they’re older, let them chill in your hotel room, eating pizza and vegging out with TV while you hang by the pool. Everyone will unwind if given time to meet their own needs.

Shop Summer Sources

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21046417
www.iceplc.com/blog/brits-take-5-days-to-switch-off-on-holiday/
www.travelbag.co.uk/blog/2016/may/5-tips-on-how-to-switch-off-on-holiday
www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/how-to-make-the-most-of-vacation_us_5755b42ae4b0eb20fa0e906d
www.salon.com/2013/10/16/your_brain_needs_more_downtime_than_it_thinks_partner/
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23524167

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