How are you?
I mean, really.
How are you?
On a scale on one to ten, how stressed are you at the moment?
If you’re higher than an average of five then you’re not alone – stress is one of the biggest causes of absence from work in the UK.
Stress can cause anxiety and depression as well as ailments such as headaches, chest pain and trouble sleeping. It can also lead to feelings of overwhelm, low self-esteem, insomnia and low energy.
In short, it’s not good, which is why there are thousands of self-help books, guides to meditation and stress management, and a whole industry built around peaceful living and stress management. All the products and services on the market are fighting to attract your attention and get you to take action by reaching for your credit card in desperate search for a solution.
But you don’t need a book. You don’t need a course. You don’t even need a lesson in relaxation.
What you need is a break.
Just imagine for a moment waking up in a luxury sumptuous four-poster bed, padding across the plush rug to the large window and throwing back the heavy curtains to far-reaching views across the waters of a peaceful Scottish loch.
Downstairs you can hear others are already up, and as you open the oak door to your bedroom you smell freshly brewed coffee and hear the sizzle of bacon and eggs cooking on the AGA in the kitchen.
This is what you need.
After a leisurely breakfast you pull on your walking boots and head out as a group into the Highlands, breathing in the clean air, pausing to take in the spectacular views, all the time feeling your stress gradually seeping out of your shoulders and draining away into the green grasses.
Relax. You deserve this. Enjoy it.
Time away from the stress and demands of everyday life is one of the best ways to recharge your batteries and change your perspective. What once drove you to distraction at home suddenly seems less important.
The kids are happier, you’re spending quality time together and you’re making memories that will last long after you get home and unpack.
How group holidays help reduce stress
Talking to others is a healthy way to relieve stress. Group holidays are a fantastic opportunity to catch-up with old friends and family, but also tell them how you’re feeling, be honest about any tensions you’re struggling with.
Group holidays are also a chance to talk about the positive stuff. Remember good times you’ve spent together, reminisce about holidays you’ve shared in the past or recall the things that have made you laugh together.
Laughter releases the chemical dopamine which produces feelings of happiness in the brain. This natural boost makes us feel good and reduces the negative effects of stress.
Do things you enjoy
A holiday with friends and family is the perfect time to indulge in doing what you love – dining out in fine restaurants, visiting new places, trying new things, or finally finishing that book you’ve been meaning to read for three years.
It doesn’t have to be sky-diving or white water rafting to be memorable and to boost your mood. Give yourself time to do what you enjoy on a group holiday, forgetting the tedious housework and to-do list back home…
Now is the time to forget the must-dos and listen to the want-tos.
Focus on the present
Sometimes we get stressed because of what’s happening in our lives – moving house, having a baby, losing someone close to us, changing jobs, getting married (or divorced) are just a few of the circumstances which can cause significant stress in our lives.
But another cause comes from the inside rather than from what’s happening around us – worry about what might happen and feeling a lack of control over a situation can also cause stress, along with looking too far ahead and worrying about the future.
To effectively manage this type of stress, try focusing on the here and now. Being away from home with family or friends close to you makes it easier to forget those pressures – rather than looking ahead to what could happen, focus on living in the moment.
Use all your senses to take in the world around you when on a group holiday – listen for the sounds of wildlife when outdoors, look for different colours in your environment, eat slowly and taste every mouthful when dining, listen consciously when chatting with your fellow guests.
Zen proverb: “When walking, walk. When eating, eat.”
When we exercise, our bodies release feel-good chemicals called endorphins which trigger a positive feeling in the body and sometimes a more positive outlook on life.
It’s not news that regular exercise can have a profound effect on stress and anxiety levels – you probably already know that – but you may not have thought about ways to build this into your group holiday.
Exercising doesn’t mean you have to pack your trainers and plan out an intensive training schedule during your group holiday. That wouldn’t be much fun for anybody.
But some of the activities you plan to do on your group holiday might actually give you that feel-good burst of endorphins without breaking a sweat or pulling a muscle. For instance, the following exercise are great fun on a group holiday:
- walking (explore the Highlands or pound the streets in search of retail therapy)
- golfing (Scotland is well-known for its award-winning golf courses)
- swimming (enjoy watersports on one of Scotland’s many lochs or take a dip in the holiday house heated pool to get your heart racing)
- playing tennis (many large holiday houses have their own tennis courts so you could fit in a quick game before dinner)
- cycling (see Scotland’s countryside from a saddle and hire bikes for your visit)
So if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed and in need of some TLC and a break away from the pressures of everyday life, a group holiday with some of your favourite people could be just what the doctor ordered.
A chance to talk and spend time doing what you enjoy, the space to focus on the here and now, and the opportunity to get a hit of endorphins while also creating lasting memories.
What’s not to love. Take action and book yours now – you deserve it.