Tips for the perfect holiday: This is how you really relax

1. Hanging out and doing nothing

AEven if you think you finally have to check off all the things that are on your bucket list or that you don’t have time for in everyday life: Relax. Nod off by the pool. Look holes in the air, listen to the waves.

Doing nothing should be the core of the holiday program. Because “passive activities” are excellent for well-being and health – during and even after the trip. This was shown, among other things, by a “Happiness Study” by relaxation researcher Jessica de Bloom from the University of Tampere in Finland. Relaxation, sleep and enjoyment are therefore particularly effective.

Although doing nothing really do nothing called. Fumbling around on the smartphone doesn’t count. The more you take it in hand on vacation, the less the recovery effect, says work psychologist Carmen Binnewies.

Put your cell phone aside on vacation and just do nothing

Those: Getty Images / © Marco Bottigelli

Even purely private use is not good for switching off, she warns, “probably because it reminds you of home”. Many experts therefore advise turning off the cell phone on vacation or leaving it in the hotel room – at least for a few hours.

2. Spend money with plenty

One of the fastest ways to give yourself a lucky kick is to reach into your wallet. When shopping, the reward center in the forebrain releases dopamine, loosely known as the happy messenger substance or the body’s own happiness drug, as with the prospect of food or sex. Brain researcher and consumer psychologist Hans-Georg Häusel simply calls it the “purchase hormone”.

At the same time, the mood for spending increases on holiday – after all, it is a time when you sometimes go overboard and treat yourself to more than in everyday life. You can even increase this pleasure in spending money if you handle exotic banknotes that suggest Croesus-sized sums. At least that’s what a study by the economist Klaus Wertenbroch from the Insead Business School says: the larger the numbers printed on the banknotes, the more generous his subjects were.

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As a result, anyone who travels to countries such as Denmark, Turkey, Thailand or Chile increases their enjoyment of splurging simply because of the large banknotes that are common there. With the same costs for the holiday budget, the happiness factor increases depending on the current exchange rate to around 7.4 (Danish kroner for one euro), 17.6 (Turkish lira per euro), 36.8 (Thai baht) or even 974.9 ( Chilean peso). It is quite possible that the dopamine release increases proportionally.

If you then invest in unforgettable experiences instead of pointless souvenirs or spend the money on others, your holiday will be ideal. Both make you happier than buying things or just thinking about yourself, says Elizabeth Dunn, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia in Canada and author of Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending.

3. Travel more often

Planning several short breaks instead of wasting the entire annual vacation on a big trip – this is a worthwhile tactic. Because the holiday effect fizzled out quickly. “A maximum of three weeks” he stops, says work psychologist Carmen Binnewies, “sometimes the recovery is gone after just a week”.

She does not confirm the widespread assumption that the batteries only start recharging after at least a week: There are studies “that have examined recovery at the weekend and on short trips and that have found similar effects to those of a real vacation”. In other words, it’s better to go away for a week four times a year than once for four weeks.

This is how you get the most out of your vacation days in 2022

The year 2022 gives German employees a little more leeway than last year when it comes to bridging days. Planned in good time, get the most of your free time with this overview.

Source: WORLD / Sebastian Struwe

Shorter trips also mean less stress in advance – you don’t feel like you have to work through everything at work before you leave, after all you’ll be back soon. Shorter trips also reduce the risk of getting sick while on vacation.

that as leisure sickness (Recreational Illness) is often attributed to the fact that excessive pre-holiday stress causes headaches or the common cold to break out as soon as one relaxes. Rule of thumb: short vacation = less stress in advance, long vacation = more stress in advance and greater risk of illness on the way.

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And another plus point: if you travel more often, you have more opportunities to look forward to it. And according to several studies, this has a similar effect to the holiday itself: just the thought of the upcoming break improves mood and reduces stress. It’s worth celebrating this anticipation: Travel virtually to your holiday destination in advance, indulge in photos, read travel reports. Tell friends about your upcoming vacation and feast on their envy.

4. Don’t have too much culture on holiday!

Do you know Stendhal Syndrome? This threatens when you travel if you overdo it with the culture. Hallucinations, deep feelings of guilt. Fantasies of omnipotence or the realization of one’s own insignificance in the face of great art. Alternatively, panic attacks with fainting spells. Triggered by sensory overload when one is overwhelmed by too much impressive culture.

“Florentine disease” is also called the disorder with which visitors to the city, which is almost overflowing with art treasures, have to be treated again and again in the local psychiatric ward. It was discovered in 1979 by the psychoanalyst Graziella Magherini after a noticeable number of confused foreign tourists were brought to her clinic in Florence. She named the syndrome after the French writer Stendhal, who described some of these symptoms during his visit to Florence.

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But it is not only in Florence that too much cultural enjoyment can drive you downright crazy. Heinrich Heine experienced something similar in Milan, Sigmund Freud on the Athenian Acropolis. Jerusalem Syndrome can involve religious delusions, Venice Syndrome can take on morbid forms, Paris Syndrome mostly affects Japanese. In general, the following applies: keep your moderation on cultural visits and compensate for this by being lazy enough – see point one.

5. Joint activities and sex

Although doing nothing is essential for relaxation, physical experiences spice up every holiday, as long as they are fun. It depends on the right ratio, writes the magazine “Bild der Wissenschaft”.

Above all, joint activities and “real, personal encounters with other people make a significant contribution to relaxation and a feeling of happiness on vacation”. This can be, for example, camping with the whole family or a wellness massage holiday where you can be pampered every day.

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And then there are the “hormonal processes” that support the positive holiday feeling, says the analysis somewhat dryly. What is meant is: sex on vacation – with the spouse or with flirt acquaintances. “The physical encounters with romantic partners support the release of the hormone oxytocin. This has a blood pressure-lowering effect and also eliminates the stress hormone cortisol in the blood.”

Many new possibilities open up, especially on vacation. According to a representative survey by the online portal with 10,000 respondents from five European countries, the majority prefer the king-size bed for sex on vacation (44 percent). When it comes to the second most popular place, the preferences differ: Brits (19 percent) and Spaniards like to make love in the hot tub (34 percent), French (25 percent) and Germans (28 percent) prefer the beach.

Either way: try it out. The more open you are to these “hormonal processes” at the travel destination, the greater the chance of a perfect vacation.

Safe travel – tips for a stress-free summer vacation

The summer holidays are just around the corner – they have even started in six federal states. In view of the chaos at the airports and overcrowded trains, many Germans rely on their cars. But there is also a lot to consider.

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