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How to feel better during (and happier after!) vacation

How to feel better during (and happier after!) vacation

Scientists have made a fascinating discovery about the link between happiness and vacation.

It turns out, our happiness levels don’t typically peak while we’re actually away on our trip. Nor do we feel our best after said trip.

Apparently, studies have shown that our peak state of happiness usually occurs just before taking a vacation. While we’re planning for it. Anticipating it. Talking about it.  

And while taking vacations is proven to be really good for our health, most of us return from our time off feeling the same level of happiness – or unhappiness – as we did before we began planning the trip.

So this begs the question:

What can we do to boost happiness levels post-vacation?

According to this study, the greatest indicator of post-trip happiness is how stressed or relaxed a person feels while on vacation.

All right – so the better we feel during our time off, the more rejuvenated we feel after we get back. Got it.

So …

What can we do to feel our best while on vacation?

To answer this question, we turned to Michelle Van Horn, Boston City Manager for MINDBODY Inc. A.k.a. our dear confidant on all-things-wellness-related. And she had some great tips on how to pamper both our mind and our body while on vacation. Go figure!

Here’s what Michelle had to say: 

Get your mind in the right place.

Time seems to speed up during our time off. So naturally, it makes sense to figure out a way to slow it back down. To really enjoy the moment. To soak in all of the scenery and new experiences. 

How specifically?

Here are some of Michelle’s tips:

Find a little time to meditate each day.

Setting aside even just five minutes a day to meditate helps us to be more mindful of our surroundings and to feel more present. Leverage the outdoors and take a moment to appreciate this time you have away from work. And if yoga's your thing? Check out these 3 great tips on how to practice yoga “off the mat”.

Find a balance in your activities.

It’s easy to center a vacation around drinking and eating. Which also happens to be a sure-fire way for a vacation to whiz on by. This is not to say you shouldn’t fully partake in Vacationland lobster rolls or microbrews in Vermont. It’s just a matter of finding a balance. So have a mocktail with lunch before an afternoon hike. Or do something active you enjoy before indulging in that daiquiri. In whatever way it looks like for you, just find that balance.

Keep your body moving.

When you feel good in your body, you feel good in your mind. Here are some of Michelle’s tips on vacation-friendly ways to keep your body moving:

Make the outdoors your workout.

Don’t feel like you need to get yourself to a traditional gym. You are, after all, on vacation. So, make the outdoors your gym! Walk to a nearby park and take in the scenery. Pop into a cute little coffee shop and grab yourself an iced coffee along the way.

Once you’re at the park, use a park bench and your body weight to get a little exercise in.

Here are some park bench exercise ideas:

Planks (or plank jacks)

Tricep Dips


Park Bench Box Jumps

Side Lateral Step-up Lunges

Single Leg Plyometrics

Park Bench Bridge (for glute work)

Try a new outdoor class in the area.

Want a little more structure or guidance in your workout? Michelle recommends either finding a one-off outdoor class you can join or finding a video on-demand class you can follow on your own.

(Pssst…we hear MINDBODY makes it super easy to find either of these pretty much anywhere you go – just download their app or do a quick search here for classes in your area.)

Don't want to do a whole lot of structured exercise? Get your steps in! Ditch the Uber whenever possible and take in the surrounding culture by walking as much as you can. Or, if you're by the water, get some swimming or kayaking in. Whatever is most enjoyable for you. No matter how you do it, just keep that body moving! 

Thank you, Michelle, for some excellent tips! And happy summer-vacationing to all of our 6AM Health friends!

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