In today’s world of mile-long to-do lists and never-ending requests on our time, taking a vacation doesn’t always feel like it will help our mental health in the long run. But you don’t have to hit the beach in Bali or take extended leave to Europe to take a mental health vacation. Whether you stay close to home or travel far this summer, we have tips to help you mentally decompress no matter where you are.
6 Tips to Take a Mental Health Vacation Anywhere
1. Close your eyes and focus on a place where you feel happy
The mind is a powerful place. Sometimes, even when we can’t physically take a vacation, visualizing it can help us to lose some of that mental tension and start to unwind. Visualization can even help you sleep at the end of a long day.
Start by imagining an experience or place in which you feel peaceful. Begin to dig deeper, thinking about the colors around you, the texture of what you are touching, and the scent in the air as you build the mental picture. Hold onto this for as long as you can to let the calm permeate. Then slowly let it go from your mind before moving on with your day (and no one the wiser about the peaceful vacation you just took).
2. Practice deep breathing techniques
If you have trouble imagining a peaceful place, you can substitute this method for deep breathing techniques. Often, when we are sitting hunched over our keyboards at work or focusing intently on a project, we don’t realize how shallow our breathing becomes, putting unwanted stress on the mind. A couple of times each day, focus on taking long, deep belly breaths to flood your mind with oxygen and boost your mental health.
3. Cut down on caffeine
For some of us, coffee itself is a happy place. We aren’t saying you need to take it out of your life. But overdoing it for the sake of caffeine can cause mental tension that is hard to escape until caffeine’s effects start to fade. Substitute a couple of your cups a day for green tea, which still contains caffeine, but in much smaller doses, limiting the negative mental effects of caffeine while still giving you that boost.
4. Take a break with your pet
Got a furry friend? Petting dogs and cats have been shown to reduce cortisol levels in the body. Further interaction with them can even increase levels of oxytocin in the body and offer even more mental health benefits.
5. Get a massage
Sometimes the only thing to help your mental health is your physical health. Studies have indicated that physiological and psychological changes happen after only 10 to 15 minutes of a chair massage. Anyone can make time for a 15-minute chair massage for their mental health.
6. Identify fun, healthy pastimes and schedule them
Finally, make time for yourself. Don’t let days go by without enjoying some of the things that make you happy in life. Identify the healthy hobbies or pastimes that leave you feeling positive afterward. Be purposeful and schedule them in instead of hoping that they naturally come about on their own. Even an afternoon dedicated to enjoying time with friends or family or a couple of mornings a week spent doing a hobby can make a big difference for your mental health.