Moments of Inspiration

A Summer of Serenity: 5 Reasons Why Holidays are Healthy

A Summer of Serenity: 5 Reasons Why Holidays are Healthy

Written by
Sarah O'Neill
January 2017


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Holidays are good for us! We examine 5 healthy aspects of holidays that will leave you feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and restored.

Holidays are good for us: the science supports it, our bodies can feel it, and our minds confirm it with a deep-seated sense of wellbeing. But which aspects of holidaymaking bring us those health benefits, and how do holidays invigorate us both physically and psychologically?

We’ve collected 5 healthy aspects of holidays that will leave you feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and restored – the 5 S’s for a summer of serenity:

1. Sea

Whether it’s the sparkle of the waves, the soft crunch of the sand, or the taste of salt on our lips, nothing says summer more than a trip to the seaside.

Have you ever noticed how your appetite improves when you’re by the sea? Or how your skin feels fresh from a saltwater swim? Clean, Blue Flag sea water is full of nourishing minerals and sea salts that you’d otherwise find in expensive spa treatments. Sand and pebbles naturally exfoliate your skin, whilst the salt water stimulates your circulation.

The health benefits of the sea and its climate have long been recognised and used in medical treatments known as Thalassotherapy. Sea climate therapy is particularly recommended to people with asthma or allergies, because the benefits aren’t just in the water– they permeate the very air that we breathe.

Sea air is full of tiny droplets of salt water, known as surf-generated aerosols, and these help to clear our airways and soothe irritation and inflammation. What’s more, sea air is almost always cleaner and less polluted than the exhaust fume and soot-laden air we find in the urban environment.

Our bodies really do benefit from a seaside holiday – but it’s in the mind that the real magic happens. There’s a very good reason that so many relaxation tracks feature the sounds of the sea. The gentle, rhythmic lapping of the waves has a fascinating, calming effect on the mind.

A study by the University of Exeter, called “Blue Gym”, has shown that blue spaces, by the sea, a lake, or river, reduce stress levels to a far greater extent than green parkland or urban spaces. The gentle giant of the sea is soothing, relaxing, refreshing to both body and mind, and a staple of a holistic, healthy holiday.

2. Sun

Summer wouldn’t be the peak holiday season if it weren’t for the long days, warm weather, and life-giving rays of the sun. Life as we know it wouldn’t exist without our sun. Plants need it to grow, our planet relies on it for energy, and our body uses sunlight to synthesise two very important chemicals in particular, vitamin D and serotonin.

We’ve known for a long time now that our body needs vitamin D in combination with calcium to grow strong, healthy bones, and protect us from debilitating disease like rickets and osteoporosis. Recent research suggests that this vitamin does a lot more than we previously understood. It could reduce our risk of heart disease, depression, and even certain types of cancer. In fact, the Mayo Clinic has asserted that vitamin D deficiency is a worldwide health problem, meaning many people around the world aren’t getting enough sunshine.

Long summer’s days bring us very real, psychological benefits as well - and it’s all due to a chemical called serotonin. Serotonin is synthesised in our body, and studies show that our serotonin levels are higher when we are exposed to sunlight.

Serotonin is a mood-lifting neurotransmitter, meaning that sunlight can literally make you happy. Many of us have heard of SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a kind of seasonal depression people can experience in the long winter months. SAD has been connected to a lack of sunshine, and therefore a lack of that happy-“hormone”, serotonin. All the more reason to take a winter break and chase those sunshine hours. Serotonin and, through it, sunlight can lift our mood and reduce stress levels, which is why sunshine leaves us glowing, both inside and out.

If you’re headed for sunnier climes this summer, remember that your skin is your body’s largest organ and it needs a safe level of exposure to sunshine so that your body can produce vitamin D and serotonin. Incidentally, research indicates that the skin on your face and neck is much thinner and is not particularly effective at producing vitamin D, so it makes sense to continue to protect your face, eyes and neck from overexposure and cosmetic damage.

Always remember that a little sunshine goes a long way, and you can have too much of a good thing. Be aware of your skin type and enjoy your time in the sun sensibly.

3. Swim

Everyone loves a hotel with a pool. Not only is the water blissfully refreshing on a hot summer’s day, but swimming is an activity that the whole family can enjoy.

It doesn’t matter what range of mobility you possess, from the strongest swimmer lapping the pool to the person bobbing around with a flotation device, everyone can enjoy exercise that ranges from gentle and rhythmical to a total body workout.

Swimming consistently tops the polls of the world’s healthiest sports because it is an ideal, low-impact activity that uses all of our muscle groups, and best of all, it doesn’t even feel like we’re breaking a sweat.

There’s no ground impact when we swim, in fact the water supports us, taking stress off our joints. It is a peaceful, rhythmical, meditative form of exercise and tremendously gentle on our bones, joints and muscles. Which is why the Arthritis Foundation strongly recommends swimming and water activities. People with aches and pains or a previous injury can improve their range of motion gently and safely in the pool.

4. Sleep

Busy people in a busy world know the value of a good’s night sleep – but it often eludes us in the humdrum of everyday life. A swarm of thoughts keep us awake, our job and family invade our headspace and our stressful lives disrupt our sleep.

We all know how irritable we can feel after a lack of sleep. It reduces our ability to concentrate, to make rational decisions, and can raise our stress levels and blood pressure. When we get good quality sleep, the opposite is true. A good night’s sleep is essential for rejuvenating our mind, and getting us ready to face the day ahead.

Which is why holidays are so essential for our wellbeing, because they remove us from our routine, our workspace and our home life, and place us in a completely new space. Isn’t it glorious not having to set an alarm clock in the morning?

Nuffield Health conducted a study on 12 people with busy lives and found that those who left home to go on holiday saw a 17% increase in the quality of their sleep, and a drop in blood pressure. Those who stayed at home recorded a 2% increase in blood pressure, and a 14% depreciation in sleep quality.

This small study illustrates what many companies are now putting into practice: a better rested employee is a more productive worker, which is why more companies are now giving their employees vacation bonuses to go on holiday. Sleep is good for you, and people sleep better when they take a break from everyday life and immerse themselves in a relaxing environment where they can reconnect with one of their body’s most basic needs.

5. Spa

Nothing says “me” time like a trip to the spa. Whether it’s a massage, an exfoliating wrap, or simmering down in the sauna, a spa trip can be relaxing, rejuvenating and restorative.

Studies on more than 3,300 workers in Japan and a Florida study on German data have shown that frequent spa use improves our physical and mental health, and helps us enjoy a better night’s sleep.

Spa treatments soothe our bodies by improving blood circulation and releasing the tensions that plague us in everyday life.

Most of us spend our working lives going through a series of repetitive motions, whether it’s long hours on our feet or behind a desk. If the industrial revolution brought us specialisation and production lines, then the technological revolution has normalised computers and company cars. More of us than ever spend most of our day seated in front of a screen, and we know the associated aches and pains all too well – muscle tension in our shoulders, neck and back.

In this respect, a holiday in itself can offer relief: a break with routine, giving the restless a chance to get active and the weary the opportunity to put their feet up and relax. A spa adds the benefit of targeting muscle tension and offering relief, whether it’s the relaxing effects of a Jacuzzi or sauna, thanks to improved circulation through heat, or a rejuvenating massage, which specifically targets your aches, pains and problem areas.

When you soothe your body physically, your mind and emotions often follow suit. The key to the restorative powers of spa treatment is the concept of being pampered. Taking care of me, taking time for me, or having someone else who cares with a healing touch, instils a deep sense of relaxation and wellbeing.

In this regard, the spa is simply an extension of your holiday – a holiday where you set the intention to take a break from everyday life, to enter a safe space free from worries and stresses, and to make the time to rejuvenate your body and your mind.

Written by Sarah O'Neill

A passionate traveller, linguist and writer, Sarah has visited over 20 countries around the globe. She loves immersing herself in new cultures, learning the language, and getting to know the local people.

Would you like to be an author at Moments of Inspiration?
Do you have an original idea for a guest blog post or interest to write regularly as an author for us? Send us your article or simply contact us at:

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