Spending day after day in an office staring at a screen, managing a database and handing off reports—even if you really, truly care about your work—can burn you out. Add onto that a majority of Americans people work more than 40 hours a week and take fewer vacations on average than other industrialized nations and it’s easy to see why so many people are in bad shape when it comes to managing stress, which is a major influence on heart health.
If you want to avoid the pitfall of overworking that can lead to burn out and stress-related illness, you should engage in self-care and self-care travel.
What is Self-Care?
It’s not all face masks and bubble baths. Self-care is any activity you do to take care of yourself mentally, emotionally and physically to improve your mood and keep you relaxed and anxiety free. Keep in mind that self-care is different for everyone, so if you go soliciting tips for self-care, you might suggestions for activities that don’t necessarily work for you. For example, if you already spend hours a day working at a screen, the ideal version of self-care for you might not be kicking back and playing video games.
The most important rule of self-care is that the activities you choose should aim to help replenish your spirit, rather than forcing you to expend energy or cause you more anxiety. (Read: don’t go hiking if you’re afraid of heights and aren’t comfortable in nature)
Looking for an accessible, liberating thing you can do for self-care? Try traveling!
Benefits of Travel
Self-care travel is excellent because it physically removes you from your current environment and asks you to do something different. If you have a stressful daily routine, traveling gets you away from the objects enabling that stress, like your computer, phone, co-workers, etc. To fill your time, you’re forced to do break your habits, which helps to exercise the more creative parts of your brain you might not regularly use at work.
Taking a trip isn’t just healthy for the mind; people who regularly travel for their vacations have a lower risk of suffering a heart attack and lower levels of stress. Other benefits of travel include gaining a renewed sense of interconnectedness, gratitude for your own life, and even a new perspective on your work.
While you might be worried that booking a vacation means spending thousands of dollars to go on a luxurious “Eat, Pray, Love” adventure, it can actually much simple and more accessible than a Hollywood-esque voyage.
Self-Care Travel Tips
While your travel time is your own, there are some things to keep in mind to ensure a successful trip:
- Bring the appropriate gear. The fastest way to ruin your self-care getaway is by not taking care of yourself. If you’re going camping, pack all the necessary equipment.
- Do tell people where you’re going. You do no favors by making people worry about you. Give your family and coworkers a heads up that you’ll be out of town, and where, in case of emergency.
- Bring “your thing.” Everyone has their thing, an activity they naturally gravitate to; maybe you write, maybe you draw, maybe you take pictures of birds. Take it with you so you’re getting out of your comfort zone that is your daily routine with the help of a familiar activity. It’ll also give you a non-phone related activity for when your flight is delayed.
- Do remind yourself to focus on the present. If you’re naturally reticent to travel and take time off of work, your mind might wander back to your desk since your body can’t. Gently remind yourself that you’re traveling because you love your work and want to be able to do it well for a long time.
Get Out There
That means making a list of things you do in everyday life and things you feel comfortable doing—like checking the news, emailing co-workers, going to bed before 10:00 p.m—and not doing them.
Exploring the world is your chance to experience the richness of what life has to offer. From the marvels of an idle mind and the freedom from obligations to breathing the fresh air in a forest and the glorious feel of sand underneath your feet coupled with the gentle sound of crashing waves. Feel the stress start to melt away and book those tickets you’ve been eyeing, your health will thank you!