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How can holidays make us happier and healthier?

Posted By Oliver Hardy on 31/01/2014

PictureMany will be glad to see the back of the month of January. It can be a hard month, especially after the highs of the Christmas period. Sometimes the poor weather, little daylight hours, having to go back to work, and the not-so-festive financial hangover can leave us all feeling a little glum, to say the least!

It’s not so surprising then that a particular day in January has been lovingly singled out as the ‘most depressing’ out of all of the other 364 on offer. You’re probably already familiar with the term ‘Blue Monday’, used to describe the Monday of the last full week of January. In 2005 Dr. Cliff Arnall decided it was about time we all knew exactly which day was the most depressing, and worked it out (with unwavering scientific accuracy of course!) by taking into account these factors.

Perhaps what you didn’t know though was of the existence of the rather more optimistic sounding ‘Sunshine Saturday’, the Saturday of the first full week in January.  Sunshine Saturday is annually forecast to be the busiest booking day of the year for many travel companies, with holidaymakers keen to alleviate any post-Christmas winter blues with the promise of a summer in the sun.

 Studies have shown that the simple act of planning a holiday is hugely beneficial in improving happiness, with a mood-boost lasting up to eight weeks. Stress in the workplace on the other hand, can affect the body’s ability to fight infection, contribute towards digestion problems, ruin the quality of your sleep and make you more susceptible to depression, anxiety, memory problems and much more.

‘So what exactly is it about travel that makes us feel happier?’ you may ask. Researcher Jeroen Nawijn believes it is the ‘increased sense of autonomy (i.e., less structure) and social bonding’ that leaves us feeling so refreshed and invigorated. It doesn’t even have to be a long trip, according to Nawijn’s studies on Holiday Happiness, which found that even a 3 or 4 night break can replicate the same effects as a lengthier stay, making early 2014 the perfect time to plan your travels, banish those blues and carry you through those often dreary winter months!

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