Hey, it’s OK to take a you-focused holiday

Everyone knows taking a holiday is good for wellbeing. And if you find yourself missing... well, no-one at all back home when you're travelling, that's actually not a bad thing either. Here’s why (and how to do it right).

A woman lying in front of a pool as the sun sets
  • Sangeeta Kocharekar
  • March 2020

For some of you reading this, what we’re about to say might make you a little uncomfortable. You might feel slightly embarrassed and, if you’re being honest, exposed. But there’s a reason we’re sharing it, so bear with us.

OK, here it is: when asked who they’d miss most when travelling, most Australians in our survey (32 per cent) reckoned their heart would hurt most for no one. Yep. Not their family. Not their friends. Not even their partner.

Even more surprising? In that same survey, only 9 per cent of Aussies said those they’d miss most were their kids. And when it comes to bringing those little ones on holidays? Only 9 per cent of Aussies said they’d be keen.

But here’s why we’re sharing these stats: to say that it’s OK. In fact, it’s not only OK, taking a self-focused holiday can actually be extremely beneficial. Here’s why.

A woman looking out of the car as it passes the beach
A solo holiday is great for de-stressing.

A relaxing holiday can relieve stress

It all comes down to stress. When we’re stressed, a number of different chemicals are released into our brain, activating our ‘fight or flight’ response, says psychologist Tara Hurster of The TARA Clinic.

“When this response is activated, it basically turns down or off our ability to think logically, engage in meaningful conversations or effectively be ourselves.”

And few things are more stress-busting than a holiday – especially one in which you’re not having to worry about feeding the tribe and trying to plan a schedule that everyone will enjoy.

“A really effective way of dealing with everyday stress is by removing yourself from its source, and travel does that by putting you in a new place, doing different things,” says Tara.

It can help ‘real world’ you

OK, so you’ve managed to relax and focus on you while you’ve been away, but now you’re headed back home. What can you expect?

For parents reading this, it’s good news – you will be better equipped. “When we are resilient, rested and effective at managing our own stress and distress, we are more able to help a child or young person to de-escalate when they are angry or upset,” says Tara.

Family At Home Encouraging Baby Daughter To Take First Steps
Parents will find they're rested and better equipped for family time at home.

“Kids are sponges so they do what they see. By you leading by example, you’re helping your children grow to implement effective distress tolerance strategies that will help them in work and education.”

If you aren’t a parent, expect your post-holiday mental state to work wonders in your everyday life and work too.

However, Tara stresses that we shouldn’t rely exclusively on holidays to maintain that state. To bring back those feelings at home, she suggests incorporating self-care into your daily life.

How to actually relax on holiday

So, while we now know the benefits of a self-focused holiday, how do we go about having one?

A good place to start is to let go of the calendar and clock as much as possible, says Tara. “When you focus on ‘I’ve got two days left’ or ‘Oh no, I’m leaving tomorrow’, you’re missing the experience of the moment you’re in,” she says.

A man walking alone on the beach
Holidaying alone is a great time to let go of time constraints.

“A strategy I enjoy using is naming the day you’re in and saying something you’re enjoying about it. For example, ‘today is Tuesday and I’m loving the sunshine on my face today’.

“That way you are present and mindful and helping your brain to connect with your body rather than getting stuck forward planning or worrying.”

Not that we needed any further incentive to plan a holiday, but this is as good a reason as any to start booking!