The research is clear. Vacations are good for our health — physically, mentally, and emotionally. According to David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, vacations are good for your heart,
“we are actually seeing a reduction in the risk for cardiovascular disease the more vacationing a person does.“
Long term trial of middle-managers indicated that
“one single short-term vacation (4 days), independent of the mode (hotel or home), has large, positive and immediate effects on perceived stress, recovery, strain, and well-being… The effects can still be detected at 30 days (recovery) and 45 days (well-being and strain) post-vacation.”
Vacations give us a chance to escape our everyday lives and step out of our normal routine. A meta-analysis of vacation effects on health and well-being, suggests that
a vacation should ideally be
1) a period of rest that is mostly spent in a different and more relaxing environment that may help workers to detach psychologically from work and from other daily demands and routines;
2) an opportunity to spend time on valued non-work activities of one’s own choice, such as hobbies and family activities.”
Especially now with Covid-19 creating additional stresses and demands on our daily lives and making exotic environments let alone local staycations (to zoos, museums, parks) difficult, if not impossible to do — it is important that we not give up on our vacation needs or the health benefits we get from them. Fortunately, we still have mindcations to help us stay sane and healthy.
Mindcations are simply vacations for our mind — a type of mental daydreaming with a purpose and a destination. Unlike meditation, where the focus is on calming thoughts and training the mind, mindcation gives us the opportunity to step out of the physical limitations of our current confinements and create the perfectly imagined environment for our own relaxation.
According to the American Heart Association —
“to achieve the greatest effect, the vacation should be distinctly different from one’s day-to-day environment – especially the stressful parts… ’When we get outside of our usual environment, the brain is much more active.’”
Mindcations give us an opportunity to refresh and recharge without having to wait for a day off, the weekend, or scheduled vacation time. There is no need to worry about travel expenses or having to coordinate everything perfectly to meet availability, seasons, or conflicting schedules.
Just imagine of yourself on your ideal vacation. Think about the location. What is physically there? What is the weather like? Who is there with you? What are you doing? What do you feel, hear, and smell? Imagine it all.
Breath. Relax. Enjoy.