Make Your Vacation Last Longer -- Your Body, Too
Vacations make us happy, but when we get back home, the ho-hum takes over. One week, we're bicycling in France, free as a breeze, and the following Tuesday, we're back to carpool and a messy kitchen. Were we ever away? That feeling of fun is buried under loads of emails and a to-do list as long as a barbecue fork.
Do you wish you could prolong that happy state or bring it back whenever you want? You can, according to esteemed happiness expert Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of "The How of Happiness."
One way is to give yourself a visual cue. Frame that picture of you in a helmet, screaming hysterically on a river raft in the Grand Canyon. Put it on the fridge.
Take a whiff of a smell you associate with a sweet vacation moment. Basil essential oil always reminds me of good times in Nantucket, remembering a salad I make with tomato, mozzarella and lots of fresh basil. For you, one deep inhale of rosemary essential oil may bring you back to that great pizza you and the kids shared last month in San Francisco.
Co-create a photo album or a vacation video, complete with funny captions. When you're feeling bored, hungry, anxious, open it up. You can activate the joy centers of your brain without really being there by just thinking you're there, by imagining you're there. Really.
Smells activate the limbic system of the brain and transform the present moment. "They help us relive the positive experience and the positive feelings we had at the time," says Lyubomirsky.
And speaking of travel, fitness expert Beverly Hosford has come up with a stress-releasing, energy-boosting 10-step routine for you to try next time you're stuck in an airplane seat, feeling cramped and crumpled.
It's based on increasing your body awareness, learning to tune in and sense when it's relaxed, unblocked, aligned. If you keep your joints juiced and your seated posture in mind when you fly, you'll arrive with more energy and fewer muscle kinks.
You can download a free audio of the sequence at www.beverlyhosford.com/travel or just do your best to memorize it. Above all, move slowly, consciously.