Help Your Heart by Getting Creative With ‘Vacations’

Take the time to unwind, renew, and explore—even if you can't get far away from it all
June 4, 2020 Updated: June 20, 2020

You may have had to cancel your summer vacation. Perhaps the time you were supposed to be in the Jamaican sun has come and gone and for the first time in years, you’ve experienced winter without a break.

Thanks, COVID-19.

The pandemic has halted plans and led to all kinds of additional stressors. Stressors that can harm your heart. And even if you don’t necessarily realize it, those vacations can play a major role in your mental and physical well-being.

Getting away from it all can allow your brain to recharge and your adrenaline and cortisol levels to regulate. Research has also shown that going on annual holidays can reduce the risk of dying from a heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases.

There is also work to show that vacations can reduce heart-disease markers and metabolic syndrome, including lower cholesterol levels. One study showed that annual vacations could cut the risk of dying from heart disease by up to 30 percent.

There are too many benefits of pleasurable travel to list. And I’m sure at this point you’re thinking of memories past. This year, however, travel might be out of the question. But if you get creative, you may still experience some of its health benefits.

What do you love about vacations? Is it alone time? The adventure? What about the idea of having zero deadlines? Maybe it renews the warmth in your relationship. Whatever it is, try tapping into that at home.

Schedule a few days a week where you just forget about it all: the financial stress, chores, or anything else you “have” to do. Take your mind, or body, away from your usual environment to release.

Exploring a park or trail nearby, developing a new hobby, or planning a romantic getaway at home can all help relax your nerves and ease the burden on your heart. Schedule some time all alone to sit with a book and a drink. Getting out for a walk can also be helpful and refreshing.

If you’re craving some of the unpredictability of a vacation, consider a video conference with friends and dressing up for a holiday, music, or movie-themed party. Slap on your vacation-only hat and step out of your environment without actually going anywhere.

Just because you can’t physically getaway, you can still find ways to escape the monotony and transport yourself. It just takes a little creativity, and you can get the benefits of travel at home.

Devon Andre holds a bachelor’s degree in forensic science from the University of Windsor in Canada and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Pittsburgh. Andre is a journalist for BelMarraHealthwhich first published this article.