How to use your vacation to relax and unwind

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Heading outdoors is one way to help de-stress on vacation. Image: istock.com/tommasoT via AFP Relaxnews

As well as getting enough sleep, working out and eating well, there are many other ways to de-stress and bring some calm into your life, and vacations are the perfect moment to practice some self-care.

Here we round up how complementary methods such as essential oils, relaxing baths and natural surroundings, can all help you fully switch off and unwind this summer.

Get a massage

A massage is a great way to take time out and do something for yourself, and can help boost relaxation, reduce stress, as well as give you a physical boost before heading back to work.

Some different types of massage to look out for in your hotel spa include tui na massage, a traditional Chinese massage with a firmer and more vigorous technique to not only relax but also improve muscle and joint pain. It can also help improve sleep and reduce stress; Chi Nei Tsang massage, also known as Taoist abdominal massage, which reportedly helps to calm the nervous system and has a calming and detoxifying effect on the body; and shiatsu massage, which can aid sleep, important for overall health and well-being and for improved mental health and resilience to stress.

Go outdoors

If your holiday location is by the beach or in the countryside, or your hotel is offering some day trips to get out of the city, then heading outdoors is a great way to reduce stress. Many recent studies have shown the benefits of living near nature and visiting green spaces—and getting some natural light—including reduced stress, improved sleep, better eye health, reduced aggression in teens and better test results in children, and an improvement in health overall.

To reap the rewards, head to the beach for a view of the ocean, which can also give mental health a boost, take a walk in the countryside, do a day trip to the mountains, or if you’re on a city break seek out a park. Yoga teacher Mandy Ingber also recommends walking barefoot where possible, for added health benefits such as reducing stress, relieving tension headaches, and enabling deeper sleep.

Pack some essential oils

If you rarely take time for self-care at home, turning your hotel room into a little sanctuary while away can help de-stress. Light a candle, dim the lights, run a bath and get out some essential oils. Adding oils to your bath, or in massage products post-soak, can help with a variety of emotional ailments.

Be careful with the quantities you use, and as a general rule, up to six drops of essential oil can be diluted directly into bathwater, and for a body oil or massage, six drops can be diluted into 5ml of a plant-based carrier oil, like sweet almond oil, macadamia nut oil or apricot kernel oil.

As for which oil to choose to, frankincense is great for a meditative state, lemongrass has an anti-depressant effect, bourbon geranium oil calms a depressed mood and irritability, calming lavender helps with stress management, and clary sage can have an anti-stress effect. Verbena, ylang-ylang, orange blossom and jasmine blossom also have relaxing properties. JB

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