Chances are, you’ve had to cancel your vacation plans this year. You’ve probably felt disappointed – and guilty for mourning lost trips as the COVID-19 pandemic has cost others so much more. It turns out that the disappointment about the canceled trips goes beyond the feeling of sadness. For many, traveling – and anticipating travel – is a type of personal care. “We tend to use something hopeful as part of our personal care routine,” said Taisha Caldwell-Harvey, psychologist and CEO of Black Girl Doctor. Now, due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, potential travelers are stuck in a “waiting pattern,” Caldwell-Harvey said. “It’s always difficult to stay high. (Now) it’s like everyone is trying to do it with both hands tied behind their backs. Some use travel as a way to disrupt anxiety and rushed thoughts – both before and after a trip. “You’ve never been to the Hawaiian Islands and you’re trying to predict what it’s going to be like. It’s the kind of calming thought that puts you to sleep, ”said Tom Gilovich, professor of psychology at Cornell University. After your trip, you can compare your expectations to the reality you have experienced, which can also be rewarding, he added. Why does anticipating travel improve our well-being? And what happens when we have no more trips to anticipate? “The emotional system is really meant to get people to engage in good things and avoid bad things,” said Leaf Van Boven, professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado at Boulder. This is why thinking about future events can elicit stronger emotions than remembering past events. Have you ever felt that your anticipation of a trip was more enjoyable than the trip itself? That’s why, added Van Boven. Some good news: A lack of vacation plans doesn’t necessarily add stress to your life. However, with no trips to plan, you have “less beautiful things to think about” when you’re feeling down, Van Boven said. Fortunately, there are ways to recreate the positive feelings associated with waiting for a trip. When we focus on day-to-day responsibilities and the latest tragedy in the news, it can be hard to be excited about the future. And yet, focusing on the future is essential to reap the benefits of anticipation, Van Boven said. “We have to do it consciously, because it doesn’t otherwise happen naturally… especially now that we’re on a less extravagant vacation.” Planning day trips and other low-key getaways is a great way to prepare for the immediate future. And it turns out that these little excursions can have the same benefits as lavish trips abroad. “The benefits of experiential consumption can be quite modest,” Gilovich said. “I hope people take local trips and… use hiking and biking trails in their communities that they didn’t use before.” Take a moment and make a list of parks and attractions near you that friends from out of town might like to visit. Have you experienced them all? “He’s a rare person who has really taken full advantage of it all around them locally,” said Gilovich. If you don’t have a lot of amenities around, maybe there is something you can do. For example, if your area does not have hiking trails, Gilovich recommended joining forces with others to advocate for more trails in your community. “It doesn’t have to be elaborate. … It can be a local thing where you get a group of people in a group of hikers, ”he said. “Suddenly you have enough people who could make a difference that you can get your local or state government to grant access and provide support to turn an old railroad bed into a trail. hiking.” Besides the hiking opportunities you create in the process, you will have made more friends. “There is so much evidence that when people are socially connected, they feel better. And you don’t have to go far to increase your social connection, ”Gilovich said. You also don’t have to leave your home to recreate some of the positive aspects of a vacation. For Caldwell-Harvey, it’s about creating as many moments of true joy as possible – like that feeling you get when you burst out laughing and “get that outburst of emotion in you that really feels good,” he says. she. “Anytime you can create that emotion, it impacts your overall well-being… it actually compounds. And that ends up leading to a happier life. And finding moments of joy in your everyday life can come in the form of something as small as a specialty tea that you treat yourself to, Caldwell-Harvey said. She acknowledges that people, especially black and brown Americans who face news of racial violence, might feel crippled by the almost constant barrage of upsetting news – and guilty of finding ways to continue enjoying life. Still, she says, finding moments of joy amidst stress and pain is essential – it might even help you avoid developing mental health issues later in life, she said. . “You are ensuring your health and the health of your family by taking care of yourself today.” Caldwell-Harvey has one final tip for anyone looking for a moment of joy in the midst of the pandemic, thanks to a colleague who is planning a 4-hour vacation home. “She orders her favorite food, she has her wine… doesn’t bring the phone with her, and she vibrates completely, listens to music and does whatever she wants.” So, it should be remembered that the next time you feel stressed out and can enjoy a vacation to wait, a joyous escape might be closer than you think.
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