With the summer season underway, many countries around the globe have started to lift restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting thousands of people to go on vacation.
Many people are itching to pack their bags and travel to a holiday destination. The COVID-19 pandemic, meanwhile, is still with us. How can holidaymakers relax despite the continued risk of infection?
Pandemic-related restrictions and often bothersome travel rules aren't exactly conducive to relaxation and dampen the anticipation of the trip, concedes social psychiatrist Dr. Michael Stark, a Germany-based expert on the treatment of stress and fatigue.
While there isn't much you can do about this, making sure you're well-informed helps, he said. National public health agencies and foreign offices can provide information on things such as travel warnings, entry restrictions, testing and quarantine requirements. Travel agents can be helpful as well.
Summer is when working people typically have most of their holiday time, allowing them to travel somewhere for longer than just a week or two. "This is relevant, of course, because we need an extended break from work at least once a year," remarks Stark, who says the body needs at least two weeks to get back into its natural biorhythm.
Holidaymakers should leave thoughts about their workplace at home as best they can. "Taking work with you on holiday is absolutely the wrong thing to do because half of your brain will continually be tuned in to work and you won't be able to really unwind," Stark said.
Mobile phone use is another hindrance to relaxation. "I advise limiting it while on holiday, even if you have to be able to be reached by phone," he said. "Otherwise you'll constantly have an ear on the phone and won't be able to properly de-stress," he explained.
What about spending the summer holiday at home? Can that recharge your batteries? This is difficult, warns Stark, since you may well end up "checking the letterbox and taking care of unfinished work."
Organizing a holiday at home, creating a daily structure in which you, say, take off on your bicycle first thing in the morning requires planning – just as organizing a holiday away from home does, points out Stark.
Only there, far from your familiar four walls, it's likely to be a lot easier.
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