It may be harder to travel afar this summer, but we all need to take time out to relax and unwind from the stresses of the past year.
Editor Jane Garton looks at the many benefits you can reap on a stay-at-home holiday.
With travel restrictions changing all the time it seems that many of us may find ourselves holidaying at home. But this needn’t put an end to having fun in the sun. There are plenty of things we can do closer to home that can bring the same benefits as chilling out by the pool or beach.
Sometimes, a stay-at-home break can be even more relaxing than a regular holiday. Think about it – no crowded airports, no jet lag, no jostling for the best spot at the beach or pool.
Here are some ideas for how to make the most of your ‘time out’ this summer.
Be a day-tripper
Find things to do and see within a 50-mile radius of where you live and plan a day out. Work out in advance what you might need for the day. Think maps, a water bottle, snacks or a picnic and start to look forward to an adventure. You may discover places or activities you didn’t even know existed, such as scenic bike rides, national parks and houses, nature walks, or lakes and rivers perfect for a spot of wild swimming.
Make your holiday a device-free zone by deciding to only check your phone during short, pre-set times – ask a friend or family member to hold you accountable.
You could even try a week without television. It may be difficult to switch off at first, but you’ll be amazed by how quickly you adapt – and even enjoy it. Instead play games, get creative or do some crosswords.
Catch up on your reading
Whether you love historical biographies, classical literature, poetry, self-help guides or romantic novels, stock up on some popular titles and set aside plenty of time to get lost in their pages. There is no better way to relax and unwind.
A well-written novel can transport you to other realms, while an engaging biography or self-help book will distract you and keep you in the present moment, letting stress fade away allowing you to fully relax.
Head for the sea
Depending on where you live spending a day beside the sea has myriad benefits. Among other things sea air is charged with particles known as negative ions which increase our ability to absorb oxygen. They also help to balance levels of serotonin, the body’s own feel-good chemical
Just listening to the crashing sea is thought to alter wave patterns in the brain in much the same way as meditation, which in turn can help to lower blood pressure, anxiety levels and pulse rate. Floating is also good for relaxing mind and body, creating a general feeling of wellbeing.
Enjoy the sun
Although after months of lockdown and the rain-filled weeks that followed you may be tempted to chill out in the sun, spending too much time soaking up its rays is not ideal. That said a bit of sun is very good for you.
For starters it activates vitamin D production in the skin, which is essential for regulating levels of calcium as well as being necessary for strong immunity, blood sugar balance, healthy bones, teeth and more. 20 minutes without sunscreen should do the trick depending on your skin colour and sensitivity. After that, make sure to use sunscreen with at least SPF30 that protects against UVA and UVB rays or cover up. Remember also to wear a hat and sunglasses and to avoid the midday sun when it is at its hottest.
Plan your menu
Chances are you may miss out on exotic foods from foreign climes, but you can still eat well and healthily on holiday at home. The secret is to take advantage of the abundance of fresh produce on offer. Think crisp green asparagus spears, waxy new potatoes, the sweetest peas and broad beans straight from the pod. Go for baby beetroot, the first of our English tomatoes, and summer berries – all of which are packed with vital nutrients.
As well as being rich in vitamin C, vegetables contain a host of other vital nutrients including vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (plant nutrients) and even protein. Like vegetables, summer fruits and berries are nutrient-rich and a great source of antioxidants and phytochemicals.
Vitamin E can help the skin guard against sun damage by helping protect cells from oxidative stress.
The herb Rhodiola can help to keep you calm and focused
Struggling to sleep? Valerian can help you sleep on hot, balmy nights.