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I’m a psychotherapist and that’s why our brain needs a vacation – and how many vacations should you take a year

Ahead of Sunshine Saturday (January 6) – traditionally the most popular day of the year to book a trip – an expert explained why we not only want a holiday, but our brains literally “need” it.

TV psychotherapist Anna Williamson shared how researching holidays and hitting the book now button can change our brain chemistry for the better.

The 42-year-old from Hertfordshire also reveals reasons why a weekend break might be better than a longer trip and how many days after a trip our bodies and minds really start to relax.

Anna also answers an important question: How many holidays do we really need per year to feel rested?

“I would say we don’t just want a holiday, we need it,” says Anna, who worked with TUI on this project.

According to TV psychotherapist Anna Williamson, booking a holiday can change your brain chemistry for the better

“Once the December festivities are over, many people experience a hormonal crash.

“Our brain chemistry is altered by this heightened state of joy, making them crave another shot of oxytocin and dopamine—our brain’s reward, comfort, and love hormones.”

“That’s why we’re doing our best to book a bank holiday in January to encourage and revive enthusiasm for the phenomenon known as Sunshine Saturday.”

Studies show that so-called “braincations” activate the release of neurotransmitters and can improve mood, reduce stress and improve cognitive function.

A vacation also improves our ability to think creatively and can have lasting effects on the nervous system, helping to recover from injuries such as strokes and improving heart health.

According to TUI research, most Britons would have started looking for a holiday on New Year’s Day this year, with around four in ten (37 per cent) likely to book a summer holiday at this time of year.

Research shows that

Research shows that “brain building” can trigger the release of neurotransmitters and improve mood

Anna, pictured, said:

Anna, pictured, said: “Be very clear with yourself and the people you are holidaying with about what you want to get out of the holiday.”

It takes an average adult 53 hours – more than two days – to find their dream holiday.

So what is the optimal number of holidays per year? The answer is a bit complicated.

Anna said, “However, there is no definitive length of time that people need to stay healthy.” [at least] For most people, two holidays a year is a realistic ideal.

“Many studies suggest that taking a break every two months, even for just a day or two, is necessary to prevent anxiety, stress, fatigue and physical illness.

“Other research shows that little and often can be a very good solution to staying rested – rather than saving for one trip a year.”

What type of trip you take – a weekend trip to the city or a two-week beach holiday – is up to you, but there are some interesting facts to keep in mind.

Anna said: “Research has shown that people feel most rested, less anxious and in better moods after three days of vacation.”

“If you prefer a longer vacation, some research suggests that eight days is ideal.”

“While the pressure of a single annual vacation can often be counterproductive, the stress of forcing fun can often defeat the whole point of travel.”

There is no definitive answer to the question of how much time off people need to stay healthy, but Anna claimed that booking at least two holidays a year is a realistic option for most people.

There is no definitive answer to the question of how much time off people need to stay healthy, but Anna claimed that booking at least two holidays a year is a realistic option for most people.

Anna warned that the pressure of a single annual holiday can be counterproductive because of the stress of forcing fun

Anna warned that the pressure of a single annual holiday can be counterproductive because of the stress of forcing fun

The joy of vacation and travel does not only arise during the trip; Even planning a trip affects the brain.

Anna said: “When we start browsing online and look at the holiday offers that tempt us, the first spark of attraction ignites in our brain because we know there is a potential reward waiting for us.”

“This hormone release is so strong that it starts producing dopamine, the chemical released that mimics the feelings people feel during activities like a good meal, shopping or sex.”

“The sensory experience that our representational system (sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell) undergoes, also called the “path to pleasure”, tingle of pleasure – the images, the memories of past holidays, the glossy photos of hotels.

“It’s all consuming.”

According to one study, vacations also improve sleep patterns, which can last up to two weeks after coming home.

Anna said:

Anna said: “Holidays are important to enjoy some space and time away from the pressures of everyday life and to work on connection and communication.”

What you do during the holidays can also affect how rested you feel afterwards.

Neuroscientific research shows that the brain receives a “novelty” every time you experience something “new”, such as seeing your hotel room or taking your first dip in the pool.

It’s even been found that meditating while traveling can help you keep that “vacation feeling” longer.

Anna said: “Be very clear with yourself and the people you are going on holiday with about what you want from the holiday.”

“Is it just complete peace and relaxation or do you want to rekindle and explore some passions?”

“It’s not right or wrong, but choosing the right partner for the holiday is very important.”

“To achieve complete rest and relaxation, remember that moderation is the key.

“Enjoy it, but also try to add some exercise to your day, even if it’s just a few laps at the pool, remember portion control at buffets and drink plenty of water.”

“Walk every morning and after dinner to ensure you get enough vitamin D and work on your physical health.”

More than two in ten people book their next holiday less than a month after returning home

More than two in ten people book their next holiday less than a month after returning home

Anna herself, a mother of two, likes to take regular breaks, which fits her family’s “freelance lifestyle”.

She added: “We love family holidays and try to go away about four times a year – usually one is a week long, the rest are more weekend trips.”

“My husband and I also try to schedule a few getaways for both of us a few times a year so we can repair the relationship, and I like to take my mom once a year for some mommy time. “

“If time and finances allow, I also try to spend a few days with my best friends, if possible.”

“Holidays are important to enjoy some space and time away from the pressures of everyday life and to work on connection and communication.

“Your brain and body will thank you.”

Previous research from TUI shows that Britons experience a “peak” holiday feeling after 43 hours of travel and that the average person loses this feeling around 3.7 days after unpacking their suitcase.

More than two in ten people now book their next holiday less than a month after returning home.

After booking a break, 65 percent said they felt “excited,” 35 percent said they felt “satisfied,” and 34 percent felt happier.

Anna likes to take regular breaks, which fits with her family's

Anna likes to take regular breaks, which suits her family’s “freelance lifestyle” (file image)

About one in three (29 percent) opt for a beach holiday in Europe, 30 percent opt ​​for a week.

Twelve percent book for 10 days and 15 percent for two weeks.

TUI expects sales this year to be stronger than in January 2022 and January 2020, before the pandemic broke out.

“For years we have seen high demand for finding and booking a holiday after Christmas and we expect this to be no different in January,” said Phillip Iveson, Commercial Director of TUI UK & I.

“We know people are now interested in planning their future travel plans. The desire to travel has never been greater and this New Year we’re offering some incredible deals on all our products, including up to £300 savings on selected holidays, thousands of free children’s places, a £0 deposit to secure your holiday and extra savings in the TUI app.

“Whether it’s a seven-night sea holiday, a three-night city break or a fourteen-night cruise, we have something to suit every need and length of time.”

“With more destinations than ever before and flights from 22 regional airports, we look forward to welcoming new and existing customers on their holidays this year.”

THE NINE REASONS TO BOOK A SUMMER HOLIDAY NOW

1. Have something to look forward to (44 percent)

2. It’s exciting to search for something (33 percent)

3. I think booking will be cheaper (25 percent)

4. It helps me/us get through the worst part of the year (23 percent)

5. I feel like we need a vacation physically and emotionally (22 percent)

6. Always book a summer vacation after Christmas (20 percent)

7. We need to give them time off at work before other people get that time off (12 percent)

8. We’re exhausted after Christmas and booking a holiday gives us a kick (12 percent)

9. We’re both free, so it’s easier to find time to look around (11 percent)

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