Most of us look forward to a holiday away from work and home life. Holidays are supposed to be relaxing and, above all, enjoyable. But some of us aren’t quite as keen to get away from it all – fearing it could trigger unwanted stress and anxiety.
Mike Wakeman, a clinical pharmacist with Master’s in Pharmaceutical Analysis, Nutritional Medicine and Clinical Oncology has looked into this growing phenomena.
“Holiday stress seems to affect a lot of people nowadays, particularly with the ‘always on’ culture of dealing with work emails and phone calls 24/7,” he says.
“Having worked hard all year, the last thing you want is to get stressed before and then on holiday. Holiday stress is the stress you can feel preparing for a holiday or the stress you feel while on holiday. Nowadays we work really hard with little time off. This means when holiday time comes we feel we really need that break and our high expectations can be the cause of real stress, both prior to and during the holiday.”
Here Mike Wakeman’s top tips for recognising triggers and how to overcome them:
Don’t try to be perfect! “You’ve worked hard throughout the year, and you’re likely tired and ready to have a break. This holiday probably means everything to you – rest, fun, relaxation and recovery. You therefore put a lot of emphasis on it being perfect. If you carry such high levels of stress into the holiday then you are very likely to have a very stressful time. Just chill out – nothing’s ever perfect – but above all have FUN!”
Leave work behind! “Prepare your work schedule in advance of the holiday to make sure all the loose ends are tied up before you go away, so you are not worrying about things you have left unfinished that could impact negatively on your colleagues or business. This is your ‘down time’ – stop thinking about work and embrace the holiday for your ‘you time’.”
Take a mini break! “If you haven’t allowed yourself time off for a whole year, the chances are you’re going to be really stressed by the time you get to the holiday, since so much significance is riding on its success . So try and get some time away for the odd weekend every now and then to take the pressure off the main holiday. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to spend out on hotels and B&Bs – visiting friends that you haven’t seen for a while can be just as, if not more, enjoyable.”
Don’t try to do too much! “Overextending yourself is a sure recipe for heightening stress levels. What are you capable of and what do you really want? Choose your holiday with care remembering what it is that you need. There is sometimes also a temptation to do lots of things on holiday and keep busy. This means you might be replicating the busy life you’ve been leading at home. If this is the case, spend more time chilling so you don’t hear yourself saying at the end of the holiday, “I think I need another holiday to recover.”
Preparation is key. “Don’t leave packing until the last minute. How often do you forget something or get really burned out because you’ve been in such a rush? This stress again is often carried into your holiday and is an unnecessary burden to take away with you.”
Embrace change! “Change can be stressful for people. Going to a new environment, culture and language can be very stressful if you are already burned out and tired. And that’s not all – although most people love the sun or a change of climate, it can often take a few days to adjust. So take time to settle into your new environment.”
A Beach is not the B-all and end-all! “Beaches in popular resorts, both in the UK and abroad can be busy places. If you’re used to the peace and quiet of village life, this contrast might be stressful for you. Consider a quieter location where you can maybe travel to the coast on some days if that’s what ‘floats your boat’.”
Remember – patience is a virtue! “In reality if you are spending a significant time at work your actual contact time with your family is probably limited. On a family holiday, suddenly you’re living on top of each other. For a lot of people this can be very stressful. So be gentle and patient, and if all else fails make time to go for a walk each day for half an hour or so and practice mindfulness.”
De-stress naturally! “If you are a regular sufferer of holiday stress, it’s worth recognising that anxiety isn’t unusual, affecting over 25% of us, and comprises physical, emotional and behavioural factors including feelings of insecurity, sleep disturbance, muscle tension and even digestive disorders. If this is the case, then it’s well worth trying RelaxHerb Passion flower tablets, a traditional herbal medicine used to relieve stress and mild anxiety. The effects of the active herbal ingredient – Passiflora incarnata L – on anxiety have been assessed with highly satisfactory results. Indeed, clinical trials have demonstrated the herb to be as effective in relieving anxiety of situations such as visiting the dentist for a tooth extract, as the prescription medications oxazepam and midazolam, but without the unwanted side effects these medicines can cause. Plus, in a recent study, a single dose of Passiflora was shown to be effective in reducing the anxiety associated with public speaking within an hour prior to the event.”
Just do it! “And finally, if you really need a rest and to lie on the beach for a week by yourself– do it! It might not be the most sociable of holidays but your friends and family will thank you for it when you come back relaxed and refreshed.”