Stressed Out? Taking a Holiday May Not Be the Smartest Solution

By Lisa Franchi on June 29, 2012

Many people who want to get away, at least temporary, from their stressful lives find it a great idea to go out of town and enjoy some new scenery. Although it sometimes helps, taking a holiday isn’t always the best way to fight stress, especially if you’re suffering from chronic stress, said John Coates, author of ‘The Hour between Dog and Wolf: Risk-taking, Gut Feelings and the Biology of Boom and Bust’.

When faced with chronic stress, riding on a plane and seeing a new place isn’t a good solution. In fact, it may just make the situation worse, said Coates. Instead of going on a holiday, people may choose to stay at home and be surrounded with friends and relatives.

When confronted with stress, the best thing we can do is to minimise the novelty in our lives, Coates suggested. People need familiarity. But often, they take the exact opposite route – leaving work and going someplace. Although travelling is a good way to alleviate stress in normal circumstances, it’s not advisable when people are highly stressed. The reason for this is, according to Coates, is that the novelty we experienced abroad can just aggravate one’s psychological turmoil.

Coates suggest staying at home, listening to some familiar music, watching old films, exercising, being with people you love – anything that promotes familiarity.

Why is this so?

Familiar voices and happy faces tell our brain that the ‘flight or fight’ phenomenon, which causes stress, isn’t needed. Seeing your friends and family relaxes your mind and body. A holiday trip on the other hand exposes you to unfamiliar things or unfamiliar places, which can trigger and intensify stress. This is what happens to many people who travel over and over again because they had such a disappointing holiday, before they can go back to their normal life.

Things you Can Do at Home to Lessen Stress

Aside from listening to your favourite music, watching movies you’ve seen a hundred times, or conversing with your loved ones, there are some other things you can do to fight stress without the need to go away from home.

Cook your favourite dish – you want to go back to that day when you were so delighted with the dish your mum cooked for you by trying it out on your own. Just the smell of a lovely dish will surely make you smile. You can ask your relatives and friends to come over too.

Revamp your home – maybe this is the perfect time to restyle your home and explore your creativity and imagination. You can ask the whole family or some friends to help you think about a good design. It’s also a great bonding time with your loved ones.

Write it down – studies show that writing about what you feel, your passion, sense of gratitude for other people, and so on elevates one’s mood.

So next time when you are feeling stressed out, you may want to resist the urge of going somewhere else and simply go straight home, enjoy a day or two with the people you care about.

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