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Holiday: hearing the word, what comes to mind? Rays of golden sunshine beaming across a spread of halcyon pink sand in a warm tropic destination is likely to be the image amongst most of us. This pre-set idyllic standard of a beautiful holiday is a common for most because of previous experiences enabling and invoking feelings of personal satisfaction, enjoyment and most importantly, fulfilment. Acknowledging this, the following reasons explore and explain why all holidays should be treated as a retreat to revitalise and rejuvenate.

Holiday vs. retreats 

Starting with the basics, what is a holiday?

With a history extending back to the 1500s, the word ‘holiday’ originates from the old English word, h?ligdæg and when broken down into its two separate elements, h?lig and dæg, these translate into ‘holy’ and ‘day.’ In the past, a holiday refers to time-off school and work to complete duties for a religious anniversary or a religious celebration yet under a modern and redefined explanation, today a holiday suggests time away from stressful and anxiety-inducing terrain for recreational purposes.

Whilst both definitions underscore one item in common: a holiday is a period of time to detach and detox from the autonomy of daily life, the approaches under each definition move towards varying results.

More simply put, many believe flying to a tropical destination complete with sun, sand and sea is the equation for cultivating mental and physical health, however, although this may be the case for some, this is only a temporary solution to the wider, evolving matter. As you take refuge on an island, shutting out and escaping from the items of strain and stress, once the holiday is over, reality kicks back in.

The crux of the matter is maintaining emotional, mental and physical balance during and away from the escape and across the long-term span. The aim is to aid the reconnection to a sense of self and revisiting what is important to you.

Destination introspection

Absorbed in the fast-tempo of daily life, it is easy to lose a sense of self. Taking the time and opportunity to travel and explore either alone or part of a group allows introspection. Characterised as the self-examination of one’s feelings and thoughts, the freedom to delve into the untried, unexplored and unheard of can uncover a better understanding of you.

Included as part of a society, which favours and highlights the success of others through social media and other telecommunication channels, it becomes very easy to be warped in thoughts of self-doubt and worthlessness. To some, being plagued by such negative thoughts can cloud true identity, avid interests and personal worth as confidence levels plummet into the grounds. In a recent study carried out by P.h.D Raj Raghunathan from Sapient Nature approximately 60-70% of the sample size held negative spontaneous thoughts.

Reported in thispiece of researchby Raghunathan, being coiled in a downward spiral of negative thoughts can be classified as the loss of self-control to the societal forces. It has the potential to tug individuals to behave out-of-character to achieve and morph into society’s definition of ‘successful’ based on the metrics of power, money and social status. By travelling to be away from these negative components, replaced with an air of tranquillity and serenity, retreat-goers have noted signs of clarity and an established sense of belonging and self-worth.

Recharge and recalibrate the mind and body

As explained by William Reville, Biochemistry Professor from UCC, holidays can carry wholesome benefits for the spiritual, mental and physical welfare yet due to their interconnected nature, a tilt in the balance can often lead to negative impacts on personal wellness.

Stress is an emotion that can be felt both physically and mentally. For some, stress can be felt as sharp physical pain whilst for others, stress can string into a chain of emotional imbalances and fluctuations.

The first stop to controlling stress and anxiety exerted through the impositions of daily life is learning to pause in your tracks, taking regular travel breaks, engaged in energising and enriching activities. By understanding your own limits and boundaries, you know best which steps to take to regain control over your thoughts and feelings.

Entitling yourself to breaks through a regular pattern of stop-and-go holidays may help you realise the importance of it. Frequent retreat-goes have expressed feelings of a lighter and more upbeat mental state as well as noticed improvement in immune system, sleeping patterns and digestion. Remember, you only have one body, mind and soul and it is yours to take care of so next time you feel overwhelmed and inundated, take a break without the conscience-heavy outlook.

Switch off, relax and enjoy

Having finally decided to take the overdue break from work to be engulfed in the unfamiliar yet stupendous surroundings, to reap the benefits, switch off, relax and enjoy the new settings.

Relishing in the beauty of the new environment, the people and culture can ultimately expand your horizons and expose you to new perspectives. Let two powerful energies, hope and enlightenment be the source of motivation. Explore far or near and enjoy the personal satisfaction on each and every journey.