Walk, run or swim your way through holiday stress
We can’t control holiday tensions, but we can all find a few minutes to take time to ourselves
Whether you walk, run, swim or cycle, taking a little time every day just for you will help reduce your stress and improve your mood
If your perfect summer holiday involves a beach, a bottle of sun cream and a cocktail, you may need a little convincing to leave the sun-lounger and think about going for a walk. I’m not suggesting that you replace the sandals with hiking boots, but even on holiday, I do believe that our bodies need to move as well as rest. Adding some activity into your holiday days can help improve your energy, your waistline but most importantly your mood.
Most parents don’t have the luxury of staying on the sun lounger all day even if they would like to. The family holiday location and daily routine is most likely not the type of getaway we would choose if we were travelling alone. Practicality dictates that a holiday with family means though we are away from home we still need to keep everyone fed, entertained and happy. A holiday for some, but for many parents, it is the same daily pressure but in a different climate.
The build-up to the holiday
The lead-up to the summer holidays can be even more stressful than an average busy week. Many of us are more frazzled than normal by the time we have finished work, tied up loose ends and packed the bags. The race to get everything done before we leave, and the pressure to have the “perfect” holiday can lead to tension rising before we even unpack the suitcases.
Stress away from home
Once unpacked and settled, chasing children with bottles of sun cream or managing mealtimes abroad can bring new challenges. Equally, spending a lot of time with extended family or friends in close proximity can add to the pressure already on parents, grandparents and friends alike. There comes a time when most of us could benefit from a little “me-time” on holiday.
The morning escape
If you are used to having personal time at home to exercise or even relax, holidays can change all that. It can be frustrating that you may not have the freedom to explore or have quality time to yourself. Whether you walk, run, swim or cycle, taking a little time every day just for you will help reduce your stress, improve your mood and help you avoid returning from holiday feeling more tense, heavy and tired than when you left.
Release the tension
Consider the early morning as your time. Even if getting out for a solo walk seems like a selfish thing to do on a group trip, your holiday partners may indeed thank you for it. As tempting as a lie-in may be, the freedom and solitude of being the only one up and out will have you returning home energised and ready for the day no matter what lies ahead.
How much to do
If you have been following my walking advice for the past few months, now is the time to take advantage of your training and use this time now to set yourself a challenge and explore. Find a route and maybe get off the beaten track. However, even if you haven’t moved for a while, a simple leisurely walk in the fresh air will set up your day. Not only deemed best for general health, walking can help your posture, your fitness, your waistline and your mood.
Move better, sleep better
I can still remember that wonderful childhood feeling after returning from a day at the beach. There is a lovely satisfaction and comforting sleep after a day of sea air, sunshine and smiles. If you have children running about, join them. While easier to sit down and watch, get involved when you can. Whether you kick a ball, assist with rock pool explorations or simply make sandcastles, you too can move and revisit that childhood feeling of a summer day well spent.
You won’t be tempted to join in the making of mudpies or being the extra person on the rounders team if you are not comfortable in your clothes and shoes. It’s nice to wear holiday clothing that makes us feel good, but if you do want to move and enjoy moving, consider your wardrobe, especially your footwear. Make it easy for yourself to incorporate activity rather than create another barrier. The evenings are long enough for uncomfortable heels.
Get everyone involved
Whether your holiday is in Cork or Corfu, there are options for movement in your day. Hiring a bike, following a seaside trail, taking a sea dip or trying out one of the organised adventure activities in the area are options whatever your holiday group looks like. From waterparks to national parks, there are options for all budgets and age-groups out there. There is something for leisurely walkers to the most adventurous of daredevils.
Walking further afield
If you are lucky enough to have the time, budget and freedom to get away on holiday on your own terms, there are endless options now for walkers of all levels. Wonderful brochures entice us to explore both famous and alternative trails throughout Europe and beyond. You don’t even need to carry your bags. There a growing number of companies that will plan every step of your holiday saving you from worrying about the logistics.
Make the most of it
Even if your holiday this year may not be your dream destination or even with your dream companions, you still have control over how you let the environment and the people impact your stress levels. We can’t control holiday tensions, weather and family frustrations but we can all find a few minutes to take time to ourselves, to set up our day, feel the post-exercise satisfaction and be prepared for whatever awaits after breakfast.