If you can’t afford a holiday right now, what could you do to improve your health?

Here psychotherapist Christine Webber offers 6 tips on how to look after your mental health without taking a holiday.

1. Sleep more
Often when people go on holiday, they have no idea how tired they are – till
they stop. They usually report having real, deep and nourishing sleep on
vacation. This is very energising and invigorating. So, if you want to feel
better, work out how you can grab more ‘shut-eye’ several times a week. It
might help too if you make your bedroom a place you really want to be. So,
borrow some tips from your favourite holiday hotel and transform your
bedroom into a luxury hideaway.

2. Engage in new activities
One of the huge bonuses of a holiday is that you get a greater sense of
perspective by seeing how other people live and cope in circumstances very
different from your own. Clearly, it’s hard to replicate that back in the UK.
But if – perhaps at weekends – you can sometimes engage in activities that
are very different from your weekday ritual, you will get that sense of tapping
into a different world and feeding your soul and lifting yourself out of the
humdrum that we value so much while we’re on vacation. Good ways to do it
are to: walk by the sea; climb a mountain; visit a free museum; enjoy theatre;
watch a DVD of David Attenborough or Simon Reeve on their exotic travels.

3. Go on a date
Holidays often bring couples closer together. But with some effort, you can organise more quality time together on a regular basis. Try having a ‘date’ once a week. If you have children, get a babysitter. If need be, form a babysitter circle so that you and other parents all help each other out, free, on a rota basis. Your date needn’t be an expensive one. But it should give you time to re-connect as a couple, and to have some fun and romance.

4. Sit quietly and make a list
We know from past Kuoni research that the majority of people make lifechanging decisions on holiday. Something about the unaccustomed time and space enables us to face up to problems and to vow to change them. But if you can’t get away, why not sit quietly one day and list those aspects of your life that you’d like to alter. Then pick the one that feels most important, and work out – step by step – how you could gradually effect some changes that would help you to solve this particular difficulty.

5. Have a computer-free day
Most people report that holidays give them a chance to ‘switch off’ their brains. This is much harder at home than it is when we are away. But why not ban all thoughts of work for at least one whole day per weekend? This means no worrying about the boss, no marking maths homework if you’re a teacher, and no work on your laptop connected to your employment. Your weekend will be much more of a rest if you give your mind a complete break from what you do on most other days of the week.

6. Do things together as a family
Holidays often encourage us to try family activities that we don’t do at home. Often these pursuits help us to relax and laugh – and bring out a different side to us. So, plan a day doing something as a family that you don’t normally do – whether it’s beach volleyball, swimming, canoeing, rock climbing or maybe even dancing, or Karaoke.

Nuffield Health suggests a range of free options to keep your health in check…

1. Come to one of our events
Attend one of our 650 Meet Our Experts free events for the general public each year. We advise those who attend on how to boost their wellbeing through areas such as nutrition, fitness and energy. At these there is also free access to physiotherapists and nutritionists. Spinal mouse back scans (a large computer mouse rolled over the back to generate a 3D image to give you specific information about your back, instabilities or curvatures) and peak flow breath tests (to help calculate your lung age) are also on offer for free.
For more information:
www.nuffieldhealth.com/fitness-and-wellbeing/meet-our-experts

2. Ask your GP for tests
Some of the tests used in this experiment are available for free through your local NHS GP’s surgery – eg blood pressure, blood glucose levels and cholesterol.

3. Work out your bmi & waist/hip ratio online
You can check out your own body mass index and waist/hip ratio through these pages:
http://www.nuffieldhealth.com/healthmap
http://www.nuffieldhealth.com/about-us/waist-size

4. Eat slower
Several of the participants in this experiment were stressed and often eating on the run. They were advised to switch off phones and computers and sit at a table and chew food properly. This may increase absorption of vitamins and minerals in the body which may help you feel more energised and boost your immune system. It costs nothing – just focus on it!

5. And if planning to fly...
Boost your immune system beforehand. Eat seven to nine portions of fruit and vegetables per day for the two weeks before you travel. When we fly, we are exposed to strangers in a confined space which may lead to coughs and colds. Once in the air, avoid deep vein thrombosis risk by getting up and walking around at least every 1-2 hours. In your seat you can do calf raises, toe taps and knee lifts. Lastly, keep hydrated by drinking water to avoid headaches.

6. And if you do go on holiday...
Enjoy food and booze in moderation. Does every meal have to be overly indulgent? Do you really need to drink alcohol every day to have a good time? Keep active - holidays are a good opportunity to walk, swim and cycle. Enjoy the sun, but remember, lying in the sun for 10 minutes without sun screen is all we need to replenish vitamin D levels. Past this we should always use sunscreen or seek shade. Lastly, reflect. Try to think of one or two changes you would like to make to improve your health when you return home. Once you have your changes decided, list the actions and support you need.