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Gone are the guaranteed days of traveling across the country for work trips, vacationing in the mountains during the winter, heading to the beach for a summer-time adventure, and even the good-old-fashioned road trip to see Grandma. As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, flights and travel accommodations are being canceled left-and-right during variant surges. While the vaccines have helped limit the severity and infectiousness of Covid, there are still so many unknowns when it comes to predicting exactly when and where an outbreak could happen. So how is taking a trip even remotely helpful in managing stress and mental health? 

It all comes down to the anticipation of the vacation experience before actually going on the trip. Our brains are so wild, y’all. While people who go on vacations are proven to be happier than those who don’t, their peak happiness levels were reported in the weeks and months leading up to the planned trip. This season of excitement and anticipation is so heightened that we would actually suggest letting yourself feel a little of the goodness, even if you don’t have the availability to actually go on the trip.

Pushing yourself out of your general routine is part of what allows us to feel refreshed and rejuvenated from vacations. Data even suggests that this act of going out of our comfort zones into different cultures is necessary for boosting creativity and originality. Leaning into this “reset” is possible despite our inability to get on a plane and fly to a new locale and experience a million new senses and feelings in real time. Taking the time to dream and design a perfect get-away doesn’t cost a thing, and you can do it from the comfort of your home over a few weeks.

The key to happiness is to wiggle more into learning about the new place you hope to experience, and focus less on the actual booking of travel arrangements and accommodations. Leaving all the finer details out of the equation, you are free to completely design a dream vacation and plan a trip that you would absolutely love and feel the most refreshed by (and you can even overlook price tags!). Hopefully, of course, travel restrictions will continue to drop-off as we learn more about COVID-19 and managing exposure and symptoms. 

Remember, your mental health does not rely on the world for you to find peak levels of happiness. Cultivating your mind and emotional wellbeing in the times between the highs of travel experiences (or whatever really gets you feeling your best, happiest self) is truly the goal here. Our passion at Simply Psych is to see people healthy and happy all the time – this includes giving therapists more time to provide high quality care. Learn more at www.simplypsych.com. Let us help you focus so you can devote more brainpower to dreaming about your next vacation! 

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