An Impromptu Vacation
Archie Modequillo (The Freeman) - June 9, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  Modern life is stressful. Even the very things that are meant to relieve stress can be themselves a source of stress. Social media is an example.

People connect with one another on social media generally to lighten up their day. For one, it tends to lighten up one’s heavy feelings to know that others are under heavier burdens. Well, it also helps to discover a wider universe out there than one’s dense personal world.

Unfortunately, for the most part social media is turning out to be a stressor. It is difficult keeping up with the people one knows on social media, as everybody is in the habit of posting only what’s nice and beautiful about themselves. The habit pushes people to the extent of faking “what’s nice and beautiful.”

In order not to appear left out, everybody has gotten on the bandwagon of posting only their bright side on social media. This can be quite stressful, albeit in small, manageable parts. But when combined with all the other small stressors that plague one’s day, these can add up to a major stress.

Just one big stressful event can send a person reeling off. Even familiar, minor concerns suddenly become formidable challenges. Everyone knows that momentarily getting away from it all can provide relief, but only few people have the time – or the resources – to run off on an impromptu vacation.

Those who badly need stress relief but are hard of both time and money may not despair, writes Diana Rodriguez at She suggests taking a vacation, yes, but the type where one “does not have to spend a dime or go anywhere other than a quiet spot nearby.” She’s referring to a mental vacation.

“If you don’t find a way to reduce stress,” Rodriguez explains, “your health will pay the price, both mentally and physically.” Health experts have been pointing that out, time and again. And “it’s not necessary to get a lengthy massage or head to a beach to relax – [one] can unwind every day in simple ways and still get a major benefit,” Rodriguez adds.

It will help to learn techniques to reduce stress and try to sneak in one or two of these each day. Even small chunks of time regularly devoted for it – like, say, five minutes in the morning and five minutes at night – can yield long-term benefits.

Rodriguez recommends six quick mental trips devised by social worker and therapist Sally Connolly:

Read a book in bed. This is a great escape and can leave you feeling refreshed, relaxed, and ready to face whatever is outside your bedroom door. Your bed is warm, cozy, comfortable, and a peaceful place for you. It feels luxurious, and getting lost in a good book is a perfect way to forget, then refocus, your own thoughts.

Visualize relaxation. Devote a few quiet moments to close your eyes and think of an image that relaxes you – such as the warm sun on your skin and the sound of the ocean, a big country field sprinkled with flowers, or a trickling stream. Think back to a time when you felt peaceful and relaxed, and focus on releasing the tension from your toes to your head.

Look at pictures from a happy time. Pull out snapshots from a photo album of a family vacation or a fun dinner with friends. Reflect on your memories of that occasion, and what made it so enjoyable. Spend a few quiet moments reminiscing, and you'll find yourself more relaxed.

Look out a window. Distract yourself by focusing on something other than what's stressing you. Grab a steaming cup of coffee or tea, close the door, and take a mental break. Do a little people watching, appreciate any birds within view, or enjoy some fluffy clouds rolling by. Allow yourself to daydream for a few minutes.

Listen to a relaxation CD. Invest in a couple of these CDs for a short daily escape. These can be found in the bookstore or record bar. You may like to hear chirping birds, rolling waves, or gentle rain – whatever your choice, closing your eyes and listening to these soothing sounds while doing some deep breathing can help you relax and de-stress.

Take a walk. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress because it's a great escape for your mind. Head out for a quiet early morning walk or lace up your sneakers on your lunch break. Walking along a trail, waterfront, or other peaceful place when possible may offer even more relaxation.

Treating oneself to a 5- or 10- or or 20-minute mental vacation each day can train the body to relax and reduce stress. Simply visualizing a stress-free place and doing other relaxation techniques are quick and easy ways to help the whole body to calm down. It’s amazing how much better one feels after taking just a few luxurious moments all to oneself.

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