By Lindsey Joe, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

When it comes to vacations, we like to go big—relaxing with our feet up from sunrise to sunset, eating without hesitation, and just doing whatever we want, whenever we want.

Now, I am a 100% advocate for self-care, but I’m here to remind you that healthy habits don’t have to be all or nothing, especially if doing “nothing” means returning to normal life disappointed and unmotivated to get back into your healthy routine. So, let's look at better ways to vacay.

7 simple tips to give your body real TLC on vacation:

  1. Quench your thirst. When we’re out of our normal routines, we tend to rely on caffeine to keep us going so we don’t miss a beat. Be sure you’re drinking plenty of water (can be sparkling) while on vacation, as caffeine (as well as alcohol) can actually dehydrate you. I always pack a refillable water bottle that I can keep with me at all times.
  2. Let yourself unplug. It may feel a bit foreign not to check your email every hour, but give yourself a real mental break from work and technology. Remember to set your out-of-office replies before leaving and even turn off notifications from social media.

  3. Turn off alarms. Vacations are a great time to catch up on some z’s, especially considering that most us function day-to-day with a “sleep debt.” Allow yourself to get 7-9 hours of rest so you can wake up feeling ready for your next adventure. Pro tip: A room temperature between 60 and 67 degrees is optimal for sleep. And if you’re road tripping, please remember that driving drowsy can be just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated.
  4. Find activities to enjoy. Maybe you don’t visit the hotel gym while on vacation. No sweat! Rather, find fun activities that involve movement, such as swimming, biking while sightseeing, or strolling on the beach. You’ll be amazed at how fun and rejuvenating physical activity can be!

  5. Save your skin. If you’re taking a reprieve from the winter weather by vacationing somewhere sunny, protect yourself from skin cancer (the most preventable type of cancer). Apply sunscreen correctly to get its full effect, and wear long clothing and sunglasses. And remember that even on cloudy days, there are UV rays!
  6. Pack healthy snacks. Meals and meal times can be very unpredictable while on vacation. Plan for those late brunches, lunches and dinners by packing some healthy snacks to have around. I love non-perishable items like fruit and nut bars, unsalted nuts, unsweetened dried fruit, and turkey jerky.

  7. Protect your time. While it’s tempting to pack your vacation schedule full of activities, it might add a lot of unnecessary stress. Be realistic about the time you have, and prioritize the things you want to do most. If you end up with extra time, you can always tackle one of those other agenda items or simply be still.

Thrive with the Y

Cultivate a healthier spirit and mind with these ways to stress less this week. Ready for a healthier eating approach? Get started today by becoming a member of the YMCA of Middle Tennessee.