THE BLOG

The Psychology of a Holiday

01/02/2013 14:55 GMT | Updated 01/04/2013 10:12 BST

January can often seem a bleak month with the hangover from Christmas still present, alongside the pressures of sticking to the self-inflicted New Year's health regime - not to mention tight finances after splurging over Christmas.

On top of this, with the disruption from both the recent snow and flooding, we can all be forgiven for turning our attentions to holiday planning and pinning our hopes on getting away from it all this year.

Avios, the travel rewards programme, found that almost half of the population admit to being depressed at the thought of not going away during 2013, with a number of those having failed to escape last year. And when you consider the glorious summer we had in 2012 (not weather-wise of course) with the excitement of the Jubilee and Olympic celebrations, it's no wonder we're looking for something to keep our spirits buoyed. Of course, the plethora of travel advertisements in the ad breaks only serves to fuel our interest in booking a break.

But how is booking a holiday able to raise our spirits so much? Dr Linda Papdopoulos, psychologist, says that holidays are absolutely vital to our psychological and even physiological wellbeing - and that there's a good reason that holidays are inbuilt into every single culture in the world.

"We need to remember that we are human beings, not human doings", she comments. "We need time to relax, to unwind, to get out of a routine. While people are creatures of routine, they need a period of time where there aren't any 'shoulds', or 'have-tos' or 'musts.' People that take regular breaks are and time out to spend with their partners, or children, are likely to have better self-care skills - to eat better, to sleep better."

Having said that, a holiday doesn't need to be two weeks somewhere far flung, with soaring temperatures, in order to recharge our batteries. Even taking a couple of days off work to go for a walk somewhere new, eat in a different restaurant, or even sleep in a different bed can radically change the 'work' mindset. So in essence, a day out in the UK or a short break in a neighbouring European city can have the same positive impact on our psychological wellbeing as two weeks in the Caribbean, which in the current economic climate, seems like a very far-flung prospect!

There's a reason the Americans call it a vacation - the idea is that every so often we all need to 'vacate' normal life. In this world with constant connectivity and email, tablets and mobiles, the boundaries between work and play are becoming increasingly blurred, so people really need holidays in order to 'reset' and get a change of scenery.

So whether it's a European beach break or a relaxing weekend in the country - book that time off work, and make regular breaks a priority in 2013.