Friday, 6 July 2012

Why Singles Holidays Can Improve Your Health

‘You need a holiday,’ my doctor informed me. ‘Do you want me to write out a prescription?’ he joked.

Whether a personal crisis is weighing you down, the strain of everyday life is taking its toll or pressures at work are reaching boiling point, one of the first things to suffer is your health. You notice this immediately in your dull skin, bloodshot eyes and limp hair but, according to the NHS and international news site, Science Daily, stress can lead to far more serious impacts, including digestive problems and cardiovascular disease.

Stress is increasingly recognised as one of the major causes of illness in the UK and recognising this is the first step to minimising the risks. Rather than wait for stress symptoms to reach breaking point, taking a few days or weeks away from it all when times start to get tough, can be a far better solution than slouching on the couch, popping pills or drowning your sorrows with wine and junk food.

But when your doctor signs you off from work, or you decide it’s time to take a break, what sort of holiday should you plan for?

If you’re feeling low on energy and self-esteem you’re unlikely to be in the right frame of mind to plan an independent adventure; hotels are often swarming with couples, which can make you feel lonely; taking a close friend or family member along isn’t always an option and the temptation to talk endlessly about your concerns can make matters worse.

A singles cooking, painting or Pilates holiday however, could prove to be the perfect medicine.

Debbie Mandel, author of Addicted to Stress hails the positive effects of cooking as a ‘destresser’. “Cooking is a creative outlet,” says Debbie, the smells, tastes and textures create a sensory experience that activates your senses, providing an antidote to the numbing effect that stress can have. And you don’t have to be a practiced chef to get involved; small group cooking holidays are designed to meet your level of expertise, whether it’s a helping hand with the basics or expert advice on authentic seasoning.

Art-therapy is also well known for its positive impact on stress levels, so much so that painting is often used as a therapeutic concept to treat psychiatric patients; the work of the British Association of Art Therapists (BAAT) was recently commended by UK Minister, Huw Lewis, who agreed that “the Arts and art psychotherapy can play an important role in a person's wellbeing.” Just like cookery, the expressive and sensory experience of creating something can help to raise self-esteem and induce positive emotions, but painting also allows you to express your feelings on paper and undergo an element of self-exploration that can lead to a better understanding of who you are and what makes you tick.

If cooking and painting don’t appeal, then Pilates is another good option for managing stress. Founded on relaxation, breath, concentration, heightened body awareness and mindfulness, Pilates is one of the best restorative therapies for combating stress. It teaches you how to relax and activate your muscles more affectively; control and optimise your breathing; concentrate and still the mind; and use guided imagery to induce calm – a perfect recipe for stress-busting success.

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