Going on holiday is supposed to melt all your stress away. Unfortunately, the preparations and unpredictability of holidays can sometimes result in the exact opposite. One way to beat this is through the simple concept of mindfulness – being aware of the present moment and just appreciating it for what it is. As deceptively elementary as it sounds, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction is a scientifically proven method of combating stress in its many forms. Here are some of the easiest ways to apply the principle of mindfulness in your quest to enjoy your hard-earned time off.
In a way, every out-of-town excursion is a journey of culinary discovery. Take every meal as an opportunity to practice mindfulness by being fully aware of whatever you’re about to eat. Always look before you eat – that’s step one in The Independent’s guide to tasting chocolate like a connoisseur. Other advice includes stopping to smell the chocolate, letting it melt in your mouth for several seconds, and cleansing your palate with water before and after tasting something new. Apply this to every new meal you encounter and be surprised by what you notice about your food next.
As one of The View Studio’s own five tips to mindfulness, simply bathing with intent can be a highly meditative and therefore stress-combating activity. Get a soap that introduces new sensations and smells like mint or lavender, and focus your mind on each necessary movement as you bathe. The Japanese have long known of bathing’s mindfulness benefits, as evidenced by their long history of public bathhouses designed to create a calm, social atmosphere. Whether you’re at a Japanese bathing house, in your hotel’s bathtub, or curing your aches in Iceland’s hot springs, access these benefits simply by bathing with intent.
Nothing re-establishes focus for us Brits like good old afternoon tea. The ‘Discover 9 Guaranteed Ways to Keep Calm’ article from Lottoland recommends a cup of tea as an effective way to relax. It notes that experts have found that the act of making tea can be as soothing as drinking it. Heating the water, dipping the tea bag, timing how long the tea should spend in the hot water – it all establishes a pattern, a routine in the mind to which you can return to for warmth and familiarity. This is what makes tea such an effective way to relax and for some, even combat insomnia. Thankfully, tea is available everywhere so if you need a tea-timeout you won’t have to look far. If you are visiting a country known for its tea heritage, like India, China, or Japan, seek out which teas are best known for their mediating properties.
Step outside yourself and into the shoes of others while on holiday. Instead of snapping back at a grumpy waiter, shop assistant, or receptionist, consider what they go through during the busy Christmas period. The decline of empathy in the country today has been well-documented by The Guardian, and it’s a shame. Empathy is a more advanced form of mindfulness – it’s not always easy, but its rewards in terms of combating stress are certainly worth it. The more you practice empathy, the easier it’ll be for you to get through even the most hassle-filled holiday experiences.
Stay in the Moment
It may sound like common sense, but in the process of dealing with holiday-related madness – it can be easy to just lose focus. Once you find yourself drifting off, come back and stay in the moment. Observe and take note of the new people, environments, and activities around you. You’ll come to realise that allowing stress to take over your life – especially during the holidays – will never be useful. This makes it easier to maintain a sound calmness and awareness throughout any unexpected bumps while on holiday.