5 Ways to Use the Summer Holidays to Create Better Habits That Stick
The summer holidays is a great time to relax, reset and recharge the batteries. The pandemic years have taken their toll on many of us and leading into the holiday period, many are feeling the need for a decent break.
It’s also a time to reflect and contemplate how you want your new year to be. What changes do you want to make? What habits would you like to make or break?
The downtime is a great time to explore and try new things that you could continue when you return from the vacation. Here are 5 things you could do during your holiday that, if you maintain them when you return, will boost your productivity and feelings of wellbeing.
Get up at the same time every day. Our bodies have biological clocks known as circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are the cycles in the body that fluctuate over a 24-hour period. It’s why we experience jetlag when we travel. When there is prolonged misalignment between our lifestyle and our circadian rhythm, we increase the risk of illness. Waking up at the same time everyday resets and reinforces our natural rhythms which will in turn give us better digestion, regularity, and stronger immunity.
Don’t drink too much alcohol – Who doesn’t like a cocktail by the pool?! And you need to know that whilst alcohol makes us sleepy, it actually interferes the quality of sleep and you will wake up feeling lest rested. Whilst low amounts of alcohol (one standard drink) have a minimal effect on sleep quality, three or more standard drinks can reduce your sleep quality by as much as 40%. Take a couple of nights off the grog. Your body will thank you.
Digital Detox – With your out of office on and a someone holding the fort, you should be able to avoid reading or responding to emails during your down time. Remaining “on” whilst you are on holidays sends a terrible message to your team about the importance of taking time off. Whilst you are vacation, take the opportunity to soak up real time rather than screen time. Not only will you enjoy your holiday more, can begin to enjoy other benefits like reduced anxiety, increased happiness, less multitasking, reduction of those technology cravings. Your most important relationships will be grateful.
Daydream – While you are sitting by a pool, or climbing a mountain, or simply sitting in your backyard, allow yourself to daydream. Daydreaming has been shown to relieve anxiety, quiet the mind and even boost creativity. When on holidays, it’s also great to let your mind wander into the future and consider what you might like to achieve in the new year. Daydreaming not only boosts creativity and problem-solving skills, but it’s also fun and very relaxing.
Reading – Apart from the obvious benefits of escapism (fiction) and learning (non-fiction), there are many therapeutic benefits of reading. It has been shown to prevent cognitive degeneration, increase your ability to empathise and communicate and you may even live longer.
When it comes to making these habits stick when you return, set yourself up for longer term success by using the habit loop described by James Clear:
- Cue or trigger – eg, When I’m sitting on the couch…, or When I’m getting into bed…
- Craving or old behaviour – eg Instead of drinking a glass or two of wine…, or Instead of scrolling social media…
- Response or new behaviour – eg, I will have some herbal tea…, or I will leave my phone in the kitchen…
- Reward – eg and I will reward myself with a glass or two on a non-school night. Or, and I will reward myself with 2 hours of guilt free scrolling a week.
Identifying the trigger, finding a replacement and rewarding your progress will give you a stronger chance of maintaining the new habits and enjoying the longer-term benefits.
Holidays or vacation time is a perfect place to start new habits. If you do them daily, by the time you return you will likely have already established them as part of your routine.
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