Mental Health Vacations: Do They Really Work?

Do you sometimes wish you could run away and take a break from the realities of daily living? One in five Americans suffers from some kind of mental illness. So, don’t feel alone if you’re battling depression or anxiety.

There are loads of options available to help get you back on track again. Mental health vacations are one of these escape routes but do they really work. 

Let’s find out.

Benefits of Vacations to Destress 

Life and work stress can contribute to high blood pressure, stroke, decreased immunity, insomnia, digestive ailments, and heart disease.

Emotional responses, feelings, and thoughts impact every area of your life. A good state of mind affects your energy and productivity. It’s vital for coping with crises, challenges, and even everyday hassles. 

So, if you’re experiencing increasing feelings of irritation, anxiety, and depression you need to act fast. Often, simply removing yourself from these stressors provides relief and a chance to refresh your mental health.

Without good mental health, you’ll never reach your goals or enjoy the life you deserve. 

Here’s what the science says about the benefits of a vacation on mental health:

Vacations Boost Your Mood

When you participate in enjoyable activities or relax without worries, your mind produces dopamine. This neurotransmitter creates positive feelings in your mind and the effects can last for hours.

Dopamine’s responsible for the feelings associated with the first flush of romance, eating chocolate, or enjoying a moving piece of music.

Too little dopamine leads to poor motivation and an inability to experience joy and pleasure. 

Vacations Prevent Burnout

The saying, ‘nothing lasts forever’ applies to your energy levels too. Just like your legs tire after running a long distance, your mind can’t keep up a frenetic pace indefinitely.

You need sleep and rest to recharge your brain and approach your tasks with renewed vigor. People who take regular vacations experience less burnout, good energy levels, and increased creativity.

There are no negative drawbacks to giving your mind and body time out to refresh. 

What Are Your Options for Mental Health Vacations?

It’s clear that mental health and vacations go hand in hand, so where do you go and what do you do when you need a break? These are your top choices:

Unplug From Your Work

Even a little downtime can help you approach your problems with a clear mind and positive attitude. When you’re not at the office, switch off your phone, avoid checking your email, and forget about work.

Watching a movie, reading a book, and playing sports are all good ways to keep your mind engaged on something else. Don’t let worries about your workload invade your weekends or evenings.

Often a good night’s sleep is all you need to face your workload head-on the next morning.

Consider a Mental Health Retreat

If you feel you’ll spend most of your mental health vacation time moping as you do at home, there are other options. Places like this mental health retreat offer constructive activities and counseling to help you improve your wellbeing.

You’ll also enjoy healthy meals and activities instead of lounging by the pool sipping margaritas all day. Mental health retreats focus on the big picture and how physical wellness can impact mental health too. 

Ask your doctor about how to go on a mental health retreat and whether they think it’s a good option for you. 

Take a Regular Vacation

A change of scenery can help refresh your mind and spark your creativity.

Travel opens your mind to new opportunities and enjoyment. It can introduce you to new sports and activities and get you to try things outside of your comfort zone. 

When you’re on vacation, you’ve got time to nurture yourself with spa treatments, healthy outdoor activities, and hobbies.

All these things help take your mind off your worries and stress, so you can reap the full benefits of a mental break. While you’re away, remember to focus your attention on your mental wellbeing and seek out activities that will help you heal. 

Rushing from activity to activity won’t help your stress, and lazing alongside the pool has limited benefits when you do it for days on end. 

Get Out in Nature

You don’t need to jet off to foreign lands for a mental vacation. You can take a weekend break to a nearby state park, lake, or another scenic area.

Nature helps soothe and refresh the human mind, and some extra fresh air will do you the world of good.

Scientists have proved that nature relieves stress within minutes of exposure by measuring blood pressure, brain activity, and muscle tension.

When you spend time in nature, your levels of stress hormones (cortisol) plummet and dopamine starts flooding into your brain. This phenomenon reduces fear, anger, and stress while increasing feelings of pleasure. 

New studies show that time in nature also improves our cognition i.e. ability to figure things out. So, if you’re facing what seems like an insurmountable challenge, the answer could lie in the great outdoors.

When you spend time admiring the grandeur of natural sights, you can realize how small your problems are in the grand scheme of things.

No Time for a Vacation?

Mental health vacations are only one way to ensure you retain your sanity as you negotiate life’s daily challenges. Exercise can also help, and medication works in some cases too.

If you’re worried about your mental health, your doctor’s always your first port of call, so get their advice on what they think will work for you. 

Explore some more of our online magazine articles for lifestyle inspiration.

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