Creating Restful Vacations

Maximize Benefits and Return Refreshed

Getting into the sun and spending time alone are two great ways to have truly restful vacations. PhotoTalk/ Getty Images

Restful vacations can relieve stress, stave off burnout, and enhance overall health and well-being. (Not to mention, taking restful vacations can be a lot of fun.) Truly fun and restful vacations can bring many benefits that shouldn't be missed (see this article on stress and vacations for more). But not all vacations are restful. With busy airports, exotic illnesses, too-busy schedules and sleep deprivation, some vacations leave people with the desire for a vacation from their vacations!

Don't fall into that trap. Here are some research-proven ingredients to effective and restful vacations:

  • Get Moving!: Though restful vacations seem to be ones that involve, well, rest, incorporating physical activity into your agenda, it's been shown that vacations with the most benefits are those that involve physical exercise. (Walking or hiking are excellent choices for most vacations.) Metabolize your stress hormones, give yourself an endorphin boost, and have a restful vacation!
  • Follow The Sun: If you can, find a warmer, sunnier place to take your vacations (as opposed to darker and chillier places). Research shows that these vacations are restful and beneficial. (If you can't afford Hawaii, I would recommend that you get outdoors and just be in the sun as much as you can, wherever you are--with the help of a good sunscreen, of course!--to enjoy the Vitamin D and other benefits wherever you are.)
  • Get Some Quality Time To Yourself: Perhaps one of the more obvious ingredients of truly restful vacations is the availability of time to oneself. While many of us crave that when we're in the busy, stressful lives from which we're hoping to find a vacation, we all-too-often book vacations that have this same over-scheduled, overcrowded feel. Even when vacationing with others, try to find some time to just sit and be. You'll be glad you did.
  • Get Your ZZZZZZs: While you may be tempted to explore and see all the great things you can see while on vacation (and this is a great thing to do!) it's important to factor in plenty of time for sleep. You may be working with a sleep deficit and need to catch up; you may finally be having a break from the stresses of the job long enough to have truly restful sleep; just be sure you allow more time for sleep (naps included!) than you think you'll need. Trust me.
  • Be Social!: Many people report that the new acquaintances they encounter on a vacation are a big part of the fun, and research bears this out. Be open and friendly on your hopefully-restful vacations, and you should find yourself feeling great.


Strauss-Blasche G, Ekmekcioglu C, Marktl W. Does vacation enable recuperation? Changes in well-being associated with time away from work. Occupational Medicine, April 2000.
Strauss-Blasche G, Reithofer B, Schobersberger W, Ekmekcioglu C, Marktl W. Effect of vacation on health: moderating factors of vacation outcome. Journal of Travel Medicine, March 2005.

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