Do you suffer with the winter blues? You’re not alone there. With the cold and rainy weather and limited hours of daylight, it’s no wonder so many suffer with seasonal depression.
In a bid to beat the winter blues, Aer Lingus conducted some research into whether taking a holiday during these cold winter months could improve your mood.
It turns out that there are a number of potential mood boosting benefits to taking a break during the winter, with the biggest benefit being the escape from the day to day and exploring somewhere new.
Whether you’re travelling with friends or family, just getting the chance to travel is proven to bring joy to someone’s life. I can definitely attest to that fact. Last year, despite the cold weather in Poland, the fact that I was off exploring new cities and cultures elevated my mood to new heights.
Travelling with my friend, we ate out in restaurants, tried the strong liquors and wandered aimlessly through the Christmas markets with a mulled wine in hand. It was the perfect break.
Whether it’s for some winter sun or a city break, or traditional winter break, having a chance to just get away from it all seems to boost mood (93%). On top of that the research showed that having a break booked ahead provides a lift in mood because it gives you something positive to look forward to, this can be especially beneficial during the winter months.
Collaborating with psychologist Honey Langcaster-James for their research, the Irish airline also discovered when traveller’s reach peak happiness during their travel journey: “The research showed that for people travelling with a partner, peak happiness was achieved during that first meal in your holiday location (21%), suggesting that there is great joy to be had in just having some quality time together.”
“For solo travellers though, their happiness peaked during take-off while still on board their flight (17%). This may be because it is liberating to travel on your own and perhaps people experience a sense of ‘Yes, I’m doing this!’.”
And the joy of travel doesn’t seem to stop when you leave your holiday destination either, with Honey explaining: “The research findings appear to show psychological benefits at the end of the break away too, with some respondents reporting an increased mood upon coming home and sleeping in their own bed for example. So the benefits to taking a winter break aren’t just while you’re away, they’re in the lead up, and once you come home.”
Over 1000 people were surveyed as part of Aer Lingus’ research and chatting to Honey after the findings were released, I couldn’t help but wonder if unplugging technology increased happiness even further. As someone whose generation struggles to unplug, I wondered if taking a break would be more beneficial to my health and wellbeing while on holiday. In all honesty, the answer didn’t surprise me.
Aer Lingus surveyed over a thousand people and interestingly, despite the popularity of social media, sharing snaps online at the airport or posting holiday snaps when you get home actually brought the least amount of lasting joy. Though people like to do it, it seems the greatest benefits to be had are from actually getting away from it all.
While I struggle to stay off social media when I’m away, I find that I definitely feel better if I limit the amount of time I spend on my phone and stay away from any news or information that might inhibit my relaxation and enjoyment. And it seems that unplugging your technology is entirely up to you, with Honey offering her thoughts on the matter:
Whether you unplug or not has to be a personal decision. Some people may find that they can relax and unwind more fully if they have a break from social media or being so connected, but for others they might feel tense or stressed if they can’t check in.
“It’s important to be moderate I think, especially if you’re holidaying with a partner or family. Having some time to just be together and be really present on your break is beneficial, so perhaps try just taking a few hours off your smartphone or technology each day while you’re away if you don’t want to unplug completely.”
So overall, the majority of people (90%) agree that just being on holidays during the winter months is a great reason to be happy. According to the research, booking a winter break could give you an extra 71.5 hours of positivity. If that’s not a cure for the winter blues, I don’t know what is.
This year, don’t let Seasonal Affective Disorder ruin your chance for happiness. With so many destinations to choose from, book a holiday and explore Europe’s incredible Christmas Markets, go on a ski holiday or even get a spot of winter sun.
If you are struggling with your mental health or would like more information about SAD, visit mentalhealthireland.ie.
Sarah has always had a great love of travel, food and photography. Following her journalism degree at DCU, she developed a passion for travel writing while living in Spain.
Named Best Break Out Travel Writer at the 2018 Travel Media Awards, Sarah loves exploring new places and sampling the local cuisine. Working with TheTaste.ie combines her love of food and travel.
A big people person, especially when it comes to hearing other people’s stories, Sarah loves interviewing chefs, food producers and more.