Do you ever feel like you’re just dying for a vacation? It may be truer than you think. Non-stop work with no quality breaks is definitely bad for your creativity, productivity, and even your physical and mental health. However, many of us go for years or longer without taking a trip to get away from it all. This delay often comes down to costs. That said, there are plenty of ways to affordably manage a self-care-focused getaway.
Search for Deals
To get the absolute most bang for your buck, try to find travel deals you can use to help finance your trip. For example, you can book your rental car, hotel stays, and other travel costs through sites like Google Flights, Hotels.com and Hotwire. Another fruitful way to save money on your trip is to check tourist sites and travel companies. These agencies understand the expenses involved in vacation, and by offering discounts, they can bring in customers they otherwise couldn’t reach. So, look around online or reach out to your destination’s tourism office to figure out what kinds of offers are available.
If you want to save even more and will be gone more than one night, consider a private rental. Not only will you have more space, but you’ll also save on dining out since you’ll have access to a kitchen. Plus, privacy is much more attainable when you’re in your own space, meaning you can get more out of your self-care endeavours.
Hit the Road
One great low-cost way to travel is to go on a road trip. You can make the most of your journey by stopping at plenty of destinations on the way. Not only does this give you the chance to experience places you’d probably never see otherwise, but it’s also relatively low-cost. Roadside attractions know they’re riding on tourist interest, so they have to stay affordable.
Looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of urban living? Consider going camping. This is a great way to connect with nature and get some time away from phone screens and car horns. Since campground fees are usually low, you only need to worry about the cost of gear. If you don’t have your own tent, don’t fear — you can rent camping gear through outdoor shops. If nothing like that’s available near you, ask your friends; Someone may have gear you can use. If you need to buy gear, avoid costly camping retail stores and look to sites like Overstock instead. Here, you can find all the equipment you need at a lower price, especially if you can tack on promotions or coupons.
Go for the Secret Staycation
Getting away doesn’t always require actually getting away. Simply spending time off work and out of your routine can go a long way toward giving yourself the break you need. However, to really nail in these benefits, keep your stay-at-home plans to yourself. Anyone you tell has the potential to stop by or expect you to come hang out since “you’re free, you can make it!” By just saying “I’m on vacation that week” and leaving out any specific details about your time off, you can make a staycation a legitimate retreat.
Finally, you can get some time away from your regular routine and help the world all at once by embracing voluntourism. These sorts of trips are usually lower cost since you’re not traveling to hit the beach and lounge. These usually come with a lot of hard work and often require significant manual labor. However, when the workday is done, you’re free to explore the area and have some time to yourself. These trips aren’t for everyone, and if you work a physical job, they may not be the respite you really need. However, working with your hands can be a surprisingly effective breather for those who spend most of their days at a desk.
Vacation isn’t just fun; it’s legitimately good for you. Getting some time away from your regular routine is some of the absolute best self-care you can give yourself. By finding affordable ways to travel, you can take the trip you need to recharge your batteries.
The more I work with people using energy systems, the more I realize that one way into our experience is manipulating our “work” load. As we work on pushing up against our anaerobic threshold we can learn to expand our arousal level and increase our ability to self regulate.
This is the model I orient my psychology work from. Blending my two careers into one has taught me that the body and mind are not separate and that I can address experience through both to help heal dysfunctional physical or psychological patterns.
Many people spend a good portion of their free time watching TV or mindlessly browsing the internet. But when you have an exciting and productive activity you can enjoy outside of work, you can finally feel like you’re using every second of your day to its fullest. Plus, learning something new or taking up a hobby can be great for one’s mental health.
Learning something new or picking up a hobby doesn’t have to be a huge, expensive process either. Fortunately, living in the tech age means that the foundations of almost any skill can be learned over the internet. Don’t know how you want to spend your time? Here are some ideas from therapist Stacy Reuille-Dupont.
Learn How to Make Music
Learning an instrument isn’t just an extracurricular activity for kids. Many adults discover their desire to play a certain instrument after hearing a piece of music that they really enjoyed. Once you know the instrument you want to learn, the next hardest part is mastering your patience. Learning music requires dedicating plenty of time to practice. If you expect to become an expert overnight, you’ll be severely disappointed. Understand that practicing music requires your brain to work harder, as you use your hands and various parts of your brain all at once. Because of the patience and dedication required, older students may actually be able to learn music more easily than younger peers. There are many instrument-learning apps available such as Uberchord and Simply Piano, or you can look to online courses.
Try Graphic Design
Graphic design is a great skill to have that is not only fun and creative but can be lucrative as well. Knowing basic Photoshop skills and how to create simple graphics can help boost the professionalism of anything you create. Format Magazine recommends checking out various free online courses to further hone your design skills. Many of these are offered by universities or other graphic design experts.
Learn At Your Pace, Enhance Your Career!
If you’ve considered pursuing an advanced degree but aren’t sure you’ll be able to keep up with the pace of full-time college, online degree programs offer the flexibility for you to set the pace of your learning. And there are programs for just about any industry: informational technology, business, accounting, teaching – you get it. The beauty of an online degree is having the ability to adjust your coursework to your schedule. If you end up with more time than you thought, you can accelerate, and if you get bogged down by other things, you can slow your pace. And once you finish, you’ll be positioned to not only get your foot in the door of employers, but also ace the interviews and launch your new dream job.
Get Crafty with Woodworking
Woodworking is something that many of us dabbled in during a single shop class in high school. However, learning how to work with wood can help you fix things around the house, enable you to create furniture like shelves and chairs, and even improve mental health. Much of the knowledge employed in woodworking can be picked up online from experts who are eager to share their experience. You can learn things like how to use various tools, the basics of measuring, and how to properly finish wood.
Become a Pro Dog Trainer
Learning dog training techniques will allow you to better tame your own pet, help out friends and family with their furry friends, or even make some side cash offering training sessions to clients. Many of the essential commands that dogs need to understand are fairly easy to teach if you have a solid grasp of behavior modification techniques. For the most part, dog training involves connecting signals or words to the dog’s natural behaviors. These connections are strengthened by rewards such as praise or clicking sounds.
Learn the Art of Self-Defense
Self-defense is a skill that can save your life one day. Plus, knowing how to defend yourself from a potential attacker can help you feel more at ease and confident when you’re walking around alone. Although self-defense is best practiced with a partner, you can learn many of the moves on your own by following lessons online or through apps.
Turn Your Social Media Addiction Into a Skill
Many people aren’t aware that social media is one of the strongest marketing tools available today. Reaching consumers is easier than ever before thanks to the prevalence of social media and online communities. If you love being on social media, you can turn that passion into a very desirable skill by learning the basics of social media marketing. It’s easy to find plenty of advice online as well as courses offered by successful entrepreneurs.
From learning the fine details of woodworking to the simplicity of making music, you’ll never regret your decision to learn a new skill. Whatever activity attracts you, take the time to indulge in it and learn how to improve. You’ll soon be able to use your new talent to help others, provide entertainment, and even make some extra money if you’re lucky!
Ever think about your purpose? Wonder how it helps your life? Why it matters? Builds energy? Helps you be more healthy? Having a life purpose can lower stress, enhance well-being, and increase cognition1,2. Lately, we have been hearing a lot about purpose in the psychology world. It has become a buzz word because it is so important to living our best lives.
It is time to get serious about your purpose. Purpose is about finding something that matters to you and brings something good to the world2. A wise soul visiting my office told me finding purpose means:
“having some connection to hope and future impact. It’s about feelings of ability to make things happen. A sense of connection ‘a gift to somebody’. A need to socialize the experience and a recognition that the gift is in its authenticity and sincerity”.
As you consider your purpose consider your contribution in relation to how committed you are to making things happen. Without a personal commitment to make something happen purpose is just a dream. The reason we want it to be personal is because when it has a personal underpinning, it becomes about making meaning for your life. Meaning is important to our psychological health. I can have a thing to do – stick the widget in the box – however if I find no personal connection to why it is important to get the widget in the box, it won’t have purpose for me, it’s just another task on my to do list. As you work, find the personal meaning in the tasks that need to be done. Then make sure they understand how this task relates to the larger whole.
Having Purpose Helps Your Physical Health
A study done noting the relationship between a sense of purpose and declines in physical health found that older adults who had a sense of purpose had less physical decline in grip strength and walking speed2 . These are important because as we age our slower pace is linked to more disability and less quality of life.
Fogel & Canahil found purpose helped us recover from stress1. Stress is something we all need a little of, however if we have too much for too long our physical system becomes inflamed. Inflammation wreaks havoc on our structures. It causes joint pain, brain fog, digestive issues, heart issues, and more. In their study, having life purpose was linked to a faster recovery from a stressful situation test.
As we move through life, having purpose in our lives appears to help us handle the costs of too much stress. It was also noted in the studies above that those who had purpose reported more engagement in taking care of themselves and using proactive strategies like staying on top of routine health care needs2.
Greater Than Me
Another component of purpose is the way purpose connects to something bigger than ourselves. If my goal doesn’t bring connection to others and offer a positive “gift” then I have just accomplished a goal. Purpose is like my goal on steroids.
That’s why we see so many fundraisers to run a 5k for a cause. I could go out and run 3.2 miles any day. I could do it just because it makes me happy, gets me on the trail, out of bed, off the couch. However, most of us don’t, unless it’s helping another. Then we are all about 5am headlamp runs. When you consider how you are creating a sense of purpose for yourself, find the way the task or goal becomes service to something larger than you.
If we want to inspire others to build and follow their own purpose we need to consider how we engage with others. Do we provide opportunities for those around us to hone their sense of belonging to our cause or project. Transformational leadership posits that we influence those we lead, and that this style of leadership enhances wellbeing in those who follow us4. Leadership doesn’t have to be a formal title, it can be found in our everyday living when we decide to engage with those around us. We have an opportunity to help others capture the benefits of purpose and drive more engagement in our communities.
Well-being definitions are broad and incorporate various aspects of physical and psychological health. They include a lot more than just the absence of disease. Transformational leadership is about influencing, inspiring, intellectually challenging, and honoring each person’s individuality with appreciation for what they bring to the team4 . Do you bring these items to those working with you? Live with? Hang out with?
Reflect on Your Strengths and Values
To help you create a sense of purpose, consider where you have been. Remember, part of purpose is looking toward creating something positive in the future, having a common goal, that helps others or contributes something good to the whole. This means we have to know where we’ve been. There is an element of reflection that is needed when we consider creating purpose rather than just a task list. We want to assess what we are good at, what we’ve been able to do before, and then link our values and hopes into the project that creates a new future.
5 Exercises to Help You Build Your Purpose and Cultivate Meaning
There are a few things to consider when working to develop a consistent focus building purpose into our lives. Here’s a few fun ways to do this:
Consider your future self. Visualize your future self and imagine sitting down to have a conversation with them. Ask them about what is important, what they were excited to have accomplished, and what they hope for. Let the future you impart wisdom to the today’s version. Listen and then set some goals to accomplish those aspirational aspects of yourself.
Learn emotional regulation skills. This is so important. It’s a skill we all recognize should be taught in kindergarten, however many of us only got the cliff notes. Cultivating emotional regulation and the ability to shift your focus from what isn’t working to what is working is an advanced skill and takes practice. You must hone your ability to recognize, label, and accurately act on your emotions as they present themselves. Emotions are just a part of your built in intelligence system, however most of us are limited in our ability to recognize and label. This impacts our ability to accurately act. As a result, shifting perception – which is an action – is limited to our narrow version of what is happening in our view of the moment.
Practice visualization and what is known as the miracle question or magic wand in Solution Focused therapies. This exercise asks you to visualize and report in detail your perfect day/situation/outcome/etc. In this exercise we get very specific about what you see, think, feel, and how you act. Step by step we walk through your prefect scenario and focus on what you want. A big piece of this exercise is how you feel. Do not skip over cultivating how you will feel during each step of the day.
Be of service. Get outside yourself and your goals. When you can figure out how you can contribute you’ll have a better sense of what the world needs and how you fit into the solution for problems. This allows you to hone your own skill set and offer all that you have already learned for the benefit of someone else. Here you get to recognize your strengths and review how you learned them. You can review your life to this point and assess where you went right, wrong, and what you learned.
Consider the above and practice these exercises. They’ll give you a gold mine of options for find your next purpose.
1 – Fogelman, N., & Turhan, C. (2015). ‘Purpose in life’ as a psychosocial resource in healthy aging: An examination of cortisol baseline levels and response to the Trier Social Stress Test. Nature Partner Journals, Aging and Mechanisms of Disease, 1, 15006, doi:10.1038/npjamd.2015.6
2 – Kim, E. S., Karachi, I, Chen, Y., Kubzansky, L. D. (2017). Association between purpose in life and objective measures of physical function in older adults. JAMA Psychiatry, 74(10)l 1039-1045, doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.2145: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.2145, PMCID: PMC5710461,PMID: 28813554
4 – Arnold, K. A., Turner, N., Barling, J., Kelloway, E. K., & McKee, M. C. (2007). Transformational leadership and psychological well-being: The mediating role of meaningful work. Journal of Occupational Health Pscyhology, 12(3), 193-203, DOI: 10.1037/1076-89220.127.116.11