Happy and healthy holiday ideas

 

11 of the best healthy holiday ideas you’ll read this year…

One of the downsides of enjoying your work is that you tend to forget to take breaks – I’m very guilty of this, and in 2017 I intend to consciously seek healthy holiday ideas for real rest and relaxation.

Towards the end of last year I burnt myself out, became run-down and rather miserable.

The trips I took in 2016 weren’t actually holidays. While they were amazing (Stockholm for a conference and a super quick trip to Malta in the summer), I was pushed for time, over-indulged (because it seemed like a really fun option at the time), and ended up more tired than before I’d stepped on the plane in the first place.

Increasingly the pressures of modern-day life mean we’re always ‘on’, and Cooper and I are arguably becoming wiser with age, because our new world view incorporates happy, healthy holiday ideas where we want to have energy to explore, the chance to rest and the capacity to express our discoveries creatively but without overdoing our time spent online.

 

Healthy holiday ideas we now seek, mean that we’ll come back home feeling refreshed in mind, body and spirit.

 

11 of the very best happy and healthy holiday ideas

Worry-free ways on how to rejuvenate in mind, body and spirit in 2017…

Plan ahead

Whether you’re heading off on a road trip, coach tour or spending a week in a Tuscan villa, we’ve discovered the easiest healthy holiday ideas to implement include planning your meals and excursions ahead of time.

Lack of planning (or even boredom) often leads to impulse buying that spirals into unnecessary spending (and subsequent financial stress), plus food or alcohol intake that’s well beyond what was intended.

Then you feel sluggish for the duration of your holiday. Not fun.

Scheduling your time also means making the best use of it, so you can mix up hours spent exploring and being active, with time for simply chilling out and ‘being’.

In our experience, it’s easy to get tired when you’re travelling; your routine is different, you’re often on the go and that impromptu pint of beer is always an excellent idea … not!

For our recent trip to Ibiza in Spain though, I’d spent just a little bit of time planning where we could explore on foot from our accommodation, and I used the weather as a guide to determine which would be good days to be out and about (when it was sunny) and when would be better to just laze about (cloudy or rain forecast). It worked a treat!

Tip: Sign up for the local version of a deals site like Living Social or Groupon in advance of your holiday, and gather discounts on tours, dining, spa packages and local experiences before you go.

 

Shop at a supermarket

This is one of our best healthy holiday ideas that we share with everyone, and for good reason. It seems so simple, but a lot of holiday-makers fail to act on taking that quick trip into Lidl or Aldi.

By buying your own beverages, food and planning meals ahead, you’re taking control of budget as well as what you are putting into your body.

That is, you know exactly what’s going into each meal in terms of ingredients and calories; you have the choice to balance healthy snacks (e.g. fruit and nuts) with cheeky holiday indulgences (bring me corn chips, cheese and Prosecco!), and it’s much cheaper than getting to the point where you’re hungry so you pop down to the corner store for something over-priced and under-nourishing.

Local engagement

You don’t need a gym on hand to be active.

Of course, you could travel to a destination specifically to take part in a well-being retreat like yoga in Italy or Turkey. But if not, take advantage of modern technology and services like meetup.com to find running clubs, yoga classes, cycling groups or hobbyists who enjoy things you do (for example, bird watching, meditation, hiking).

Signing-up for meet-ups happening during your visit has two advantages – you can enjoy physical and mental activity while meeting locals and finding out more about the destination you’re visiting.

 

Explore on foot

City breaks, island adventures and regional escapes all have something wonderful in common – the best way to explore is on foot.

Certainly, you’ll possibly need to intersperse this activity with a local bus ride, hop-on-hop-off city sightseeing coach tour and even a bike or a boat ride, but to really see and feel a new place you’ve got to get on the ground and wander.

The other obvious benefit of this is the incidental exercise you get!

When we visited my brother and his wife in Japan we couldn’t have eaten any more food if we tried (so yummy, try a Watami restaurant for a large Izakaya menu, and Sukiya for delicious curries), but we walked so much that we went home lighter than when we arrived!

Additionally, when we visited Ibiza, nothing much was open as it was low season (winter) but that didn’t bother us because there were plenty of places to explore on foot, and even hiking was an option for those who are so inclined.

As mentioned, plan ahead to see what your options are; bring maps with you or take some from a tourist information centre or airport (be prepared in case you cannot access data on your phone when you’re out and about).

If you suffer knee or foot pain, ensure you pack appropriate footwear, support or even strapping if required, so that your adventure is safe and comfortable.

 

Walking tours

Many cities in the world offer walking tours that showcase the famous, quirky and interesting highlights of the place.

A lot of these options are either free or very inexpensive, run by locals who know their backyard and are keen to share their insider-secrets with enthusiastic travellers.

Once again, you’re enjoying incidental exercise by getting active; you have the chance to learn about a place and ask questions, thus putting the curious mind to work, and you’re saving on financial worries through this cheap tour option while also contributing to the local economy.

Win. win. win!

Before you leave for your destination, simply Google ‘walking tours in…’; research and contact your preferred operators and plan the excursion into your itinerary.

Remember to also search for niche options that interest you, which might be ‘walking ghost tours’, ‘walking history tours’, ‘quirky walking tours’, ‘insider secret walking tours’ and so on.

 

Pencil in ‘me time’

What is the one thing that you have discovered brings more light into your day?

Is it morning meditation, twenty minutes free-writing, drawing, reading or sparing some time to watch or listen to a motivating broadcast (e.g. on YouTube)?

Make time for this activity during your time away, in fact if you can, prioritise it.

Journaling is a pastime that I feel always brings benefit to my life, but I often lack the time to do it around my day job.

On our recent trip away, I made sure I took some time out each afternoon for this activity.

All you need is ten or twenty minutes a day, but making time for something that lights you up will help to invigorate your spirit in time for a return to the home and work routine.

Unleash your inner creative

A rising trend in the travel industry is that of ‘creative tourism’ which caters for the ‘creative traveller’.

This means that many of us are using holidays and travel adventures as opportunities to express ourselves creatively.

Maybe it means that you use some of your time away to work on writing your book or blogging?

I get just as much enjoyment these days out of writing and photography (and Cooper is really into producing vlogs) as I do taking the actual vacation. It’s one and the same, and we’ve both had conversations about how invigorating it is to indulge in our creative side while being inspired by different landscapes and experiences.

You don’t need to have a website or YouTube channel to delve into this though; creative art, cooking, writing, language and even fashion courses are on offer in many parts of the world now – simply research online whatever takes your fancy.

You could search by destination, or, many travellers are actually selecting destinations based on the creative experiences available to them there.

European regions including Tuscany, Costa Brava, Ibiza, Barcelona and the French Riviera are particularly leading the way on this front. Take a look at the Creative Tourism Network for more information, or contact the local tourism authority in an area you’re keen to visit to enquire about options. Elena Paschinger has also written a lovely book on the subject, The Creative Traveler’s Handbook. 

 

Switch off tech

The ultimate in healthy holiday ideas is to take a break from technology. While Cooper and I obviously need and like technology for blogging and vlogging, we schedule time for it now.

We’re aware it’s important to step away from online engagement so we actually have time to engage with each other, our friends and family!

Our big tip here is to set boundaries for when computers, phones and tablets should be put away, for example, within two hours of bedtime and/or not switched on first thing in the morning.

Mindful dining

While we are aiming for happy and healthy holiday options now, we also don’t believe in worrying about what we’re consuming. It’s all about planning ahead (as mentioned above), being sensible and mindful.

I freely admit – when I’m excited about a platter of cheese and a large glass of red being placed in front of me, I tend to guzzle without thinking about it!

I’ve recognised this pattern, so now I write myself little calendar reminders on my phone that pop up to say, ‘slow down’,  and I also ask a trusted travel companion like Cooper to remind me to mindfully enjoy my food and to savour the wine. It’s not a race, after all.

Being mindful during meal or snack times means you’ll slow down on consumption and are likely to get much more enjoyment out of the experience.

 

Make your intentions clear

If you feel in need of a healthy break away and want to make the most of your next holiday in ways I’ve discussed here, it’s important to let your travel buddies know of your intentions, or carefully choose who you travel with.

That is, try to spend time with people who have a similar mindset and who also want to take time out to reinvigorate mind, body and spirit while enjoying all the perks of a holiday.

You can all support each other in achieving this if the group’s intentions are similar and/or clear.

 

Give to receive

There’s no better way to replenish the soul than by giving, and in our case rarely are we happier than when we’re surrounded by animals (particularly dogs, though I would seek elephants and monkeys too)!

This idea might not be viable everywhere, but it’s worth looking into ethical animal experiences or volunteering options that will give you an authentic experience and one to ultimately be proud of.

Our friend Amy offers an excellent example in her blog where she tells of how she volunteered in an animal welfare centre in Thailand.

We also know that if you’re visiting Whistler village in Canada, you can offer to walk the dogs who are being taken care of in a shelter not too far away. I’d suggest there are opportunities to help in many destinations because all charitable organisations need a hand (but especially smaller ones).

If you have time, ask around where you’re staying and see if there’s a chance you can give your time (or money, if/where relevant) to support what locals are doing to make the destination you’re visiting a better place.

By giving, you will inevitably receive a beautiful experience, positive feelings associated with the helping of others, and if you believe in this as I do, good karma too.

 

Expert advice

We got so excited about this topic we decided to check-in with a couple of inspiring friends who are also wellness experts. Happy and healthy holiday ideas, they say:

You are on holiday so the most important thing is to relax. Listen to your natural breath wherever you are to calm a busy mind – this can also ease an upset tummy. Busy day sightseeing or long flight? Then lie on a bed and put your feet up the wall – this relieves tired legs and stimulates the restful part of the nervous system. And laugh – it’s good for the soul!”
Flavia Munn, health journalist and yoga teacher (and guest blogger here with a story about attending a yoga retreat in Turkey).

 

Particularly if you’re on a long holiday, it can be beneficial to try and keep up some of your home routines, though, without being too rigid and not allowing time to enjoy some decent rest and relaxation of course! I like taking a travel yoga mat with me for holidays like this. Having my mat around encourages me to make some time for my practise. It’s light and folds up small, so it’s easy to travel with. Even if I just do a couple of sun salutations or a few simple poses it helps me hold onto those positive habits or regular practise and more easily settle back into my usual rhythm when I return home again.”
Sarah McFadden, yoga teacher.

 

We’d love to hear from you with your advice, suggestions or questions about happy and healthy holiday ideas. Please drop us a line in the comments below. 

How I’m preparing for the new year

…out with the old ‘goals’ and in with some smart, mindful actions that are very NOW

I think after 37 years of experience I’m a little done with devising goals when preparing for a new year; but I do believe in setting intentions and maintaining some kind of vision about where you see yourself headed.

If you can’t see it (or importantly, feel it) then how do you know ‘it’ when it shows up?

I’m often asked about the processes I implement coming into a new year, because in recent times I’ve developed a suite of tools and tips that have proven to be helpful for friends trying to either set themselves up for the months ahead, or recover (faster) from bad news and tough times.

While we do have the opportunity at any time of the year to begin fresh; even any time of the month, week or day (and God knows I’ve been practising that recently), January is a nice time to try to set yourself up for a positive start.

I’d like to share what works for me, and what I’m doing now to prepare for the new year. Personally this year has had definite high points, however it ended up a bit rocky. But that’s ok – it’s life, right? As Anne [of Green Gables] says, each day is a chance to start fresh.

Onwards.

How I’m preparing for the new year

I seek positive, helpful books for reading during the holidays

I plan to use the holiday break to get stuck into a few good reads intended to motivate and inspire me. My go-to authors are people like Gabby Bernstein and Rebecca Campbell who write about life, business, spirituality and strategies on how to make space in your life for the important stuff, as well as how to move through difficult times faster.

Of course, your go-to books might be about goal setting, fitness, healthy eating, mindfulness or on a subject you aim to know more about in 2017 like learning a language. It’s all good!

I find investing just twenty minutes a day in reading something positive, interesting and helpful can shift your energy and perception. If you’re too tired to read, try finding a podcast or listen to audio books as an alternative.

 

I subscribe to regular free broadcasts

We’ve all heard of YouTube, but did you know you can utilise it for much more than getting the odd laugh out of dog and cat clips?

If you sign up for an account (and here’s why you should do that) you can subscribe to inspiring broadcasters you find on the platform. Some YouTubers now have more influence than most people on television, and no matter what you’re into, there’s a daily or weekly vlogger who can supply you with a dose of inspiration and motivation each week.

About a year ago I got into watching Doreen Virtue‘s weekly oracle card readings. She’s cute and quirky but quite possibly not for everyone (obviously, angel cards and tarot isn’t for everyone, anyway!). However, every Monday morning first thing I take a look at her ten to fifteen minute broadcast for the week (I’ve come to love her). She reads three cards that she pulls from a deck and quite surprisingly I find her readings to be accurate.

BUT I should stress that I’m not actually looking at this to view my ‘fortune’ for the week. I watch it for the messages I can take away to apply to situations in my life, whether they be challenging work or personal problems that I’m looking for a fresh perspective on, or words of wisdom I can share as advice with friends.

These resources are free and at our fingertips, and finding something to engage with on a regular basis that encourages a positive perspective shift – whatever you need – is a healthy way to pass the time, I think. It’s something I’ll focus on with any spare time this holiday season, and a habit I’ll continue into next year. I hope you choose to take advantage of this type of resource too.

 

I’ve engaged advice from a coach

An opportunity to work with a life and business coach popped up in my sphere very recently. I’ve engaged in this type of activity before but for a slightly different purpose (back then I had the intention of gaining a new perspective on building my own business). This time around, I’m aiming to see things differently in my life and career and to learn new strategies for dealing with situations that are unfamiliar to me.

I find I’m very happy to help and mentor others and am proud to have achieved a level of success in doing so. But when it comes to getting yourself out of a rut sometimes you need a fresh pair of eyes – and someone who is trained in this art is even better!

In our first session I outlined issues that I could simply not see a way out of, and left the session with a set of action points that really gave me my power back and made me feel so so much better and in control.

I realised that engaging in this activity before the new year is preferable to starting after January 1 has ticked over (although obviously any time is a good time to begin).

When I talk about ‘coaching’ though, for you this could mean in the fitness, health, Yoga, meditation, business, personal or spiritual sense. I think we can all do with guidance, and you definitely need the help of the right person, but if you’re on the lookout for them, I believe you’ll know and feel it when they appear.

And of course, if you’re serious about making real change (eg. getting fit, quitting smoking) make a call and set up an appointment with an expert now, and maybe even invite a friend along too so you can keep each other accountable.

 

I get serious about gratitude

There’s no faster way to make yourself feel better or to attract positive things than to mindfully consider all the things and people you’re grateful for.

Big, small, unexpected or the constants in your life – begin it now and I guarantee in under 60 seconds you’ll feel better about yourself and the world.

Using kindness and gratitude as a tool moving into the new year, set the intention to remember these things; recall them, revisit the list, add to it and send a little love back to those people on it to remind them about the good in the world.

This isn’t about forgetting the atrocities that go on around us; on the contrary, it puts things into perspective and is a reminder to help out where we can. Also, by giving more energy to the drama the television news generates, we’re perpetuating that negativity and it’s not helpful!

There are just as many like-minded souls such as you and I who are doing our best to bring the light – we can never have or contribute too much of that!

 

On that note, I really enjoyed this story by Bernadette Russell in Balance Magazine (December 2016) on being kind at Christmastime and how often the nicest thing we can offer anyone is our time.

 

I write things down

Using a good old notebook or an app like Evernote or OneNote, write down the things you want!

I have several years worth of experience writing ideas, wishes, dreams, plans down (funnily enough, often done during long flights); I’ve written down what I want to see happen, that I intend or that I want… I have later come across these lists and am so surprised to see what has actually manifested!

The power of putting it on paper is proclaimed by so many motivational speakers, coaches, authors, successful entrepreneurs… you name it. I don’t know what the magic behind it is (although I know a bit about the Law of Attraction and believe it to be true from personal experience); but write it down because wow, I’ve seen it work first hand – even before I knew about any of the things I talk and write about today.

A tip: try not to be too manipulative when it comes to specifics around working in a certain business or seeking a particular person as your new romantic partner; a neat trick to try is writing down how you want to feel.

 

In other words, what you want or what is for the greater good might not come in the exact form you imagine, but it will come, and it will be better. Write it down.

 

In one of my favourite Gabby Bernstein lectures (via podcast on iTunes) she talks about how to develop what she calls a ‘desire statement‘.

The process is made up of three parts:

  1. Write down a list of what you want right now in your life;
  2. Then make another list about how these things will make you feel;
  3. Following this activity free write (that is, simply write whatever comes to mind, no editing) for two to ten minutes after pondering these things you want to receive in your life right now.
  4. When you’re done, go back and underline any significant words or phrases that particularly resonate with you.
  5. From there write and edit your ‘desire statement’ into a clean, succinct, positively worded paragraph that you should then read and reflect on day and night. Use language like, “I want to be abundantly rewarded for a job I love and in a workplace where I’m valued…” rather than, “I don’t want to have trouble paying my bills and I don’t want a job where I’m not respected.” (note the difference in language used).

Surround yourself with your new intention, read it aloud consistently, and watch it come to life.

This manifestation technique has worked for me and friends so I personally vouch for the process. All it takes to work is your time commitment.

If you want an example of one of these or would like input on your own for the new year, feel free to email me or drop me a line in the comments.

 

Christmas can be indulgent – who cares, just go with it. But be aware of balancing some healthy activity for your body, mind and soul.

After a tough few months I’ve become very aware of the fact that I don’t want to be someone who moans or ‘carries on’. Yes, life is filled with hard times, difficult characters, sickness, sadness, challenges both personal and professional, but without those things we wouldn’t be able to appreciate the good. Nor would we be able to lean on faith and positive, nurturing activities that we can take responsibility for on our own (like the ideas I have outlined above)!

If I can help just one with something in here, then I’ve done my job. Drop me a line in the comments if an idea here has sparked inspiration in you, or if you have other tips to add then we’re always grateful to hear from you.

 

 

Constructive criticism vs destructive criticism

 

After a very nice break away, yesterday I returned to discover a bulging inbox which left me feeling more than a tad overwhelmed, and to make matters worse, one of the first emails I opened turned out to be a lengthy rant about a piece of content I hadn’t complemented with a photo. The feedback was reasonable enough – I had been forced to rush through a digital feature that was to be attached to a marketing email, and the copy had been supplied at the last minute. Because I was extremely short on time, I failed to include a larger photo on this accompanying attached content, and absolutely agree that it would have been the better way forward. No excuses, and I for one am well aware that the best learning usually comes from recognising the mistakes I’ve made (or how I could have improved).

Only thing is, this message from a reader was shared in such a way that it was upsetting, and the tone of voice used was that of an individual who came across (in this email, at least) as one who assumes they know better.

It was really obvious they had not considered:

  • My (as the content creator) feelings and the amount of work actually put into the entire body of work in the first place.
  • Other time constraints and workload pressures I might be facing.
  • All the other things in the overall campaign I’d actually got right!

Do you know the feeling?

Many of you reading this spend much of your day putting yourselves ‘out there’, creatively speaking and otherwise. Whether you are broadcasting on air, writing, blogging, filming, painting or working in PR and communications – it’s all a bit of a risky business for the ego. Some would even say we’re brave for doing it. I know a lot of people who are apprehensive about sharing their ideas, content or stories for fear of any type of criticism.

As content creators and communicators, we are consistently in a position where we need to produce written work or other creative output (videos, social media, blogs, magazine features etc.), and with that opportunity comes the people who are quick to judge our work, and not often in a constructive way.

We’re all pretty used to being ‘judged’, and I think most of the time this actually helps with positive personal and professional growth. Cooper and I began our careers in radio – an industry rife with arrogance and daily criticism of your work! That said, when delivered well, this really can help you become a far better on-air announcer than you ever would without feedback. Similarly, my mentors in publishing consistently showed me better ways to phrase, word, style and so on. This is how we hone a craft. This experience also helps you to develop a thick skin, which is something of a necessity in this and many other lines of work.

Criticism delivered in a negative, thoughtless or hurtful way though (whether intentional or unintentional on the part of the person sharing it), can have an adverse impact on self-esteem and confidence, and for those working in communications and creative industries, it has the potential to cause real problems.

People tend to be quick to pick problems, but very slow to share praise or thanks in the form of emails or comments on social media, websites or blogs. Have you ever been on the receiving end of destructive criticism and what kind of impact did it have on you?

These kinds of experiences remind me to think twice if I catch myself being judgmental and critical of other people’s work, because actually, they’re likely to have put much time and effort into the ideas, reason and production of the content being consumed out there in the public domain (whether you thoroughly enjoy it or not). Sharing feedback on someone’s published work is actually challenging their abilities and ideas, and it’s reasonable to expect that what comes back – if not entirely positive – should be designed to help them grow.

Moral of the story: give feedback constructively not destructively; and if you’re on the receiving end, take the valuable learning from it, and leave the rest at the door.

Today’s challenge: When you see something online today (on social media, a website, news site or blog) that’s helpful, makes you smile or feel inspired, drop a positive comment there to let the person behind it know you appreciate the thought and time they’ve put in.