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  • Writer's pictureAnna Conrad

The Surprising Link Between Vacations and Stress Levels

Do you daydream about relaxing on a beach or exploring a great city? Does this hold more appeal than a staycation? If so, you may be surprised which is better for your mental health.

If you are stressed (and who isn't these days?), you don't need more change. You need stability.

When stressed, we desperately need to minimize the novelty in our lives. We need familiarity. But quite often, we seek out the exact opposite, responding to chronic stress at work, for example, by taking a vacation in some exotic place, thinking that the change of scenery will do us good. And under normal circumstances, it does. But not when we are highly stressed.

This increased stress is harmful if the novelty we encounter abroad adds to our physiological load. Instead of traveling, we may be better off remaining on our home turf, surrounding ourselves with family and friends, listening to familiar music, and watching old films. Also, exercise during your staycation because a few things are better at preparing our physiology for stress. But when someone is this far into chronic stress, its effects are primarily analgesic, possibly because exercise treats us to a shot of natural opioids. Again, what we need is familiarity.


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