It’s safe to say that 2016 has been a stressful year. From Zika threats to Brexit to the never-ending U.S. Presidential race, the past twelve months have been full of drama, stress and all around anxiety. In fact, a Stress in America survey showed 75% of adults reported experiencing moderate to high levels of stress in the past month, and nearly half reported their stress has increased in the past year. With the slate wiped clean in January, travel public relations and digital firm Hawkins International is proclaiming 2017 the year of feeling good, and what better way to feel good than getting out of town and escaping your day-to-day reality through travel? Here are seven ways to relieve stress and feel good through travel in 2017:
- GET OUT OF TOWN AND STAY OUT OF TOWN: Taking time off has long been tied to reducing stress and the health complications that come with it including heart disease and depression. Tour operators are offering extended vacations that provide ample time for travelers to truly de-stress and relax. Opt for Big Five Tours & Expeditions’ 32-day President’s Pick: Unbound Australia Tour to discover the vast country and its breathtaking beauty. Travelers will explore distinctive cities including Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, eccentric islands such as Philip Island and tropical Daintree Rainforest, learn about Australian wines with a private specialist in Barossa Valley, explore Lake St. Clair, visit Tasmania’s east coast and take a journey on one of the world’s most famous trains – the Indian Pacific Great Southern Railway. Offering trips through the unspoiled and less-traveled regions of Asia, Nomadic Expeditions invites travelers to create two-week long customized private expeditions throughout Mongolia, Tibet, Bhutan, Siberia and China where they can experience everything from helicopter rides, white water river adventures and scientific and medical research expeditions. Award-winning, ultra-luxury cruise line Seabourn offers Extended Explorations as a new way for travelers to enjoy longer cruises. The linked cruise itineraries allow guests to explore more extensive regions of the globe in-depth during voyages lasting from 28 to 116 days.
- EMBRACE GOOD VIBES: Spas are incorporating the sense of sound and vibrations into treatments and classes to help guests relax and de-stress on a new level. In New Mexico, Sunrise Springs Spa Resort offers a Sound Immersion Class that takes guests on a sound journey using Tibetan bowls, crystal bowls, ocean drums, rain-sticks and vocals. The class is designed to create a new relationship with your brain, nervous system and cells. South Florida’s largest spa at Carillon Miami Wellness Resort offers Sound Massage Therapy that combines music, healing vibrations, aromatherapy and special massage techniques to take guests into a soothing sympathy of relaxation, allowing them to reduce stress, tension, improve sleep and their mental, physical and emotional self. The Spa at The Dolder Grand in Zurich offers a Meditation of the Senses experience that stimulates the sense of hearing through personalized meditation and breathing techniques.
- DRINK TO YOUR HEALTH: Relaxing with a strong drink is a classic antidote to a stressful day (or year!), but now hotels and resorts are putting a nutritious spin on cocktail menus so you can truly drink to your health. Carillon Miami Wellness Resort recently launched a new craft Wellness Cocktail menu that incorporates organic alcohol and healthy ingredients—from wheatgrass to support detox to lavender bitters to ease emotional stress. In Portland, Urban Farmer at the Nines hotel is tapping into the anti-inflammatory powers of turmeric with the “Mr. T” cocktail which combines rum, combier, lemon, apricot and turmeric. Enjoy a “Lost Horizon” cocktail at Colony Palms Hotel in Palm Springs which mixes London Dry gin with the power trio of aloe vera, honey and lavender. Combined these ingredients are known for everything from immune system support to lowering cholesterol and blood sugar to relieving nervous tension and even helping prevent cancer and heart disease.
- TRY AN UNDERCOVER WORKOUT: Endorphin-releasing exercise has been proven to reduce stress and improve mental health, and new fitness routines are “tricking” people into working out under the clever guise of entertainment. Carillon Miami Wellness Resort’s Off-Broadway Dance Class teaches attendees the routines from Chicago, Chorus Line, West Side Story and more as they work up a sweat. The Dolder Grand in Zurich offers Sightrunning Tours led by personal running guides who tour travelers through the city while on a cardio boosting run. Dream Downtown and Dream Midtown in NYC are combining the hot nightlife they’re known for with challenging workouts from celebrity trainers through a partnership with health and wellness company Wellthily.
- DON’T FORGET TO PAMPER YOUR POOCH: Studies have shown that dogs have evolved to understand human behaviors including emotion, which means our four legged friends have definitely picked up on some of our stress over the past year. Luckily many hotels are offering programs to help pups wind down from a stressful 2016, too. In Boston, XV Beacon will set up in-room dog massages on request and offers dog beds, water bowls and house-made peanut butter biscuits to all visiting dogs. They will even coordinate dog-friendly itineraries! Portrait Firenze in Florence has a partnership with high-end pet amenity company DOGUE to offer visiting dogs special welcome amenities, plush beds and luxury bowls.
- TREAT YOURSELF: From under-eye bags to puffy skin to blemishes and fine lines, it’s no secret that stress takes a toll on our physical appearance. Start the new year off with an over-the-top spa treatment aimed at relieving stress both physically and mentally. Spa Montage Beverly Hills Featuring RAPHAEL Geneve’s Beauty Diamond Facial uses exclusive ingredients and proprietary technologies to reduce fine lines, wrinkles and early signs of sun damage for noticeably smoother and velvety soft skin. At Le Guanahani in St. Barths guests can treat themselves to a new Expressément My Blend Treatment facial treatment that combines an in-depth skin analysis with a diagnosis from My Blend’s exclusive “My Skin Diag” software to identify individual skincare needs. My Blend products are then mixed with active ingredient concentrates called “Boosters” for the revitalizing facial that follows. The result is a precise blend of skincare and a custom well-being experience for each client.
- WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS, COMFORT FOOD – Studies have shown that comfort food, while bad for the waistline, can benefit mental health by improving a sense of well-being and decreasing loneliness. Hotel restaurants have plenty of options. In fact, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts’ most popular dish across their 180 properties in 60+ countries is a classic comfort food dish—the club sandwich! Fondue restaurant La Fromagerie at Gstaad Palace in Switzerland goes through more than six tons of cheese each season with their Champagne and Black Truffle fondue, while guests at Montage Kapalua Bay on Maui can enjoy classic comfort food with a Hawaiian twist including Hawaiian French Toast made with local apples, banana, rum caramel, candied pecans and fresh strawberries and island-style Shrimp and Grits made with Kauai prawns, dashi grits, Portuguese sausage and tomato pan sauce. Madeline Hotel and Residences in Telluride, CO features apres-ski boozy milkshakes at the recently renovated Black Iron Kitchen and Bar, including “The Alexander the Great” featuring vanilla ice cream, brandy, dark Cream de Cacao and nutmeg. Hotel Vermont’s onside restaurant, Juniper serves up classic comfort foods with a local twist including Grilled Cheese with a fromage fort of Vermont cheeses, compote and pickles and Apple Bread Pudding with maple crème fraiche and caramelized apples.