Resilience and Self-Care, Do Vacations Count?

Jim enjoying a resilience building vacation

Is Resilience Self-Care?

Resilience and self-care, do vacations count? No doubt, cultivating resilience is an asset, but is it self-care? Resilience has turned out to be one of the most useful traits a person can have or cultivate. It can improve your mental health. No matter the situation, if one is resilient, the outcome will be better. We can briefly define resilience as the ability to “bounce back from adversity.”  This is a short definition from the American Psychological Association. Most everyone has some of the qualities of resilience, and almost everyone can acquire more.  So if you take a vacation, not only is it enjoyable, but it might make you more resilient. 

There are some things that help to enhance resilience or preserve the resilience you already have.  One of those things is self-care. While everyone can benefit from healthy self-care, some people need to be reminded to take a little time for themselves.  These people tend to fall into the category of “Care Givers.” This could be someone in the nursing profession, or someone taking care of elderly parents, or just being “Mom.”  People who do a lot of giving sometimes feel they have little or no energy left over for themselves. 

Get Out of Town

There are many ways of acquiring resilience. For example, few would refute the benefits of meditation. But what about taking a vacation?  A vacation, if you can afford it, can be considered one of the more pleasurable activities to improve mental health. It is a great way to take time for much needed relaxation, or it can offer opportunities for growth, learning something new, expanding your view.  Changing your scene can be therapeutic because it moves us away from our routine environment, in which we are often laden with responsibilities.   

Vacations and Self-care

Vacations offers a fresh perspective. Leisure time can combat anxiety. It could be considered one of the natural antidotes for anxiety. Many of the couples I see in counseling report that they get along better when they travel. Vacations can help with relationship building because sometimes you find yourself in a new environment with decisions you are not used to making, albeit fun ones.  This is a time to collaborate with your partner on leaning something new or deciding on something together.

Good for Your Mental Health

In the past, I was one of those who resisted vacation. Some of my typical excuses are still: “it’s too expensive, I don’t have time, its indulgent, not necessary, or we can rest at home.”  My partner is of a different mind. He feels that a yearly vacation or “couples retreat” as he puts it. He feels it is an important way to temporarily delete responsibilities, take stalk, and reconnect with your partner/family in a way that doesn’t always happen in our everyday spin cycle. Jim and I are careful to save enough money to take a week off once a year. Whenever I am driving off on our vaca or lounging on a beach chair with a good book, I think how smart he is to insist on this. I forget how important it is, particularly for “A” type personalities.  

Why Vacations Help Develop Resilience

 It seems obvious that once in a while “wasting time is not a waste of time.”  Once I give myself permission to take a break and spend a little money, a vacation is a super boost for increasing your resilience.  Sometimes, it is about getting a little extra rest, or turning off the extra media, or getting some extra needed exercise. Relaxing can give us more opportunities to laugh. Laughing can boost your serotonin. Jim feels spending time together in an environment with low stress helps build closer connection. It can also refresh our perspective.  Sometimes, when we are far from home, we can see our life back home in a new way. Also, when I am on vacation, I often notice new things or get new ideas.  

The vacations Jim and I take are deliberately calm and leisurely, but just changing your environment can be helpful.  Vacationing and doing some of the things you have time for during your holiday can contribute to a healthy version of yourself and that will enhance your capacity to “bounce back.” Here is a link to further my case: Three Science-Based Reasons Vacations Boost Productivity

 I’d be curious to hear your thoughts about vacations. Were you like me and had to be convinced? 

What benefits do you feel vacations have given you? (P.S. Did I mention vacations might be different than taking a business trip?)  Next time you get a chance to sign off for a week, don’t hesitate and enjoy. 


Myriam Mayshark, LMHC is a licensed mental health therapist in New York state. 

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