There's mounting evidence that holidays aren’t just nice to go on, but are a key ingredient for mental and physical well-being

Regular short-breaks are boosting the global Health and Wellness sector, with mounting evidence that holidays aren’t just nice to go on, but are a key ingredient for mental and physical well-being.

Information overload is an increasing problem, both in the workplace and at home. When we are not giving of our time checking e-mails, we are caught up in newsfeeds and WhatsApp chats.

“You have to be ready to put your health at the forefront of your priorities and you have to be willing to take a hard look at the parts of your health you have been neglecting,” said Mark Steyn, a Clinical Psychologist, who practices in Claremont, Cape Town.

“We need to make time away a habit, and integrate it into our routine as much as possible. Holidays offer an integral opportunity to manage our information overload… develop our own personal psychological resources, self-awareness and reflectivity, which are fundamental to our capacity to prevent, cope with and manage life stressors.”

Active holidays on the rise

Sharmila Ragunanan, Group Marketing Manager of Dream Hotels and Resorts, shared research by the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), which depicted wellness tourism as a $563-billion industry, growing 10.6 percent from 2013 to 2015, and on track to become a US$800-billion empire by 2020.

Ragunanan suggested local destinations to break away more often. “The numbers not only show that people are focusing on maintaining a healthy lifestyle but also that travelling has become an integral factor in one’s personal well-being.

“Taking stock on regular holidays is not just about shelling out on fancy spas and resorts or trekking in the middle of nowhere. Sometimes, all we need is to be able to throw a bag in the trunk and hit the road in the direction of our happy place; an easy to reach holiday haven, where you can bump into friendly locals, forge happy memories and indulge in some good old-fashioned peace and quiet.”

The GWI report also shown a 14 percent increase in global fitness tourism between 2014 and 2017, Ragunanan revealed.

“Physical health is closely linked to your mental well-being but if you are uninspired and struggling to drag yourself to the same gym every day, bi-annual holidays with exercise as part of the itinerary is a great strategy to maintaining your motivation,” suggested Jane Kilian, a personal trainer and founder of GI Jane, an online fitness and travel platform.

“You don’t need a crazy fitness holiday like trekking in Nepal or the fitness levels of a professional athlete to get started. Heading to your regular holiday spot, where you can golf, walk, bike, swim and play with your family outdoors is a simple, yet healthy step in the right direction.”

“Pack up the bikes for some mountain biking in Piekenierskloof in the Western Cape or stretch your legs on immersive walking safaris at Mthimkhulu Wilderness Trails. It is the perfect spot for a digital detox with your partner or the family,” Ragunanan added.

Build your own wellness travel community

If you are struggling to stay disciplined in taking holidays by yourself and you don’t have a partner or kids to join you, it can be helpful to build a community of friends at your local fitness studio or gym, suggested Fulvio Grandin, Director and Head Yoga Instructor at Yogazone in Cape Town.

“Being in the company of others who value their mental health and well-being is a sure-fire way to make your own self-care a regular priority. There is no reason not to organise trips together out of the city with these groups of friends. It is a chance to bond with new people and you will feel more motivated with that support system.”

Whether you are heading to, or coming from Cape Town, ease into your journey by stopping off in Swellendam, with plenty self-catering spots, such as the Stonehill River Lodge on the banks of the Breede River. “It is ideal for groups seeking a tranquil, self-catering retreat,” Ragunanan concluded.