There's no doubt taking a holiday -- whatever the duration -- can provide an instant mood boost. But aside from the potential for a tan, multiple cocktails, a break from boring house chores and -- potentially -- the kids, can a simple mini-break actually improve your well-being and physical health? Could it provide a delightful antidote to months spent over-working?
Recent findings from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicated that of Australia's 7.7 million full time workers, an incredible 5 million are regularly working more than 40 hours per week. According to a recent Visit Victoria survey, 63% of Melburnians polled admitted they felt in need of a break 'daily', while 37% said they felt burnt out. And according to human behaviour expert and author Dr John Demartini, that's because many of us prioritise work over fun and relaxation.
"While we all have to earn a living, many of us devote our time to what we think we should be doing and ignore what we'd like to be doing," says Dr Demartini. "Then we ignore the physical and mental effects overwork can have... a break is so physically and mentally revitalising."
In fact, the Visit Victoria survey also found that of those who recently took a mini break, 81% felt 'more relaxed and less stressed.' Below are five ways you can mini-break your way to improved well-being. And the best part? You don't even need to leave Victoria...
Get On Your Bike
Victoria is a cyclist's paradise and there's a huge selection of wheely great -- sorry -- mini breaks available across the state. Why not try a two wheel gourmet tour of your local region? If you're in the Yarra Valley or Dandenong Ranges, Pedals Australia will not only recommend a route, but actually drop a bike off to wherever you're staying! "Cycling's not only great exercise -- hello super toned legs! -- it's great fun too," says fitness and well-being expert Jacci Allanson. "If you're on a scenic cycling mini-break, you're outside, breathing in the fresh air and taking in the scenery. That combined with the cardio benefits of cycling add up to an instant endorphin-fueled mood boost." So even if you've indulged in that divine farmhouse cheese en route, you're still enjoying a healthy break.
Take A Hike
It's easy to check out the Great Ocean Road from your car window but why not really see the sights on foot? The Great Ocean Walk offers a choice of short, day and multi-day walks, with guided or self-guided options. "Hiking is another great cardio workout, but it's also good for boosting bone density, promoting a good nights sleep and it builds strength -- particularly in your quads, hamstrings, lower legs and hips too," says Sue. And getting out into nature with your mates is just as good for your mind! "Hiking with friends or family is so mentally therapeutic too," adds Sue. "I think we really underestimate just how good getting out in nature --especially with our friends, family or partner can make us feel."
Embrace Your Inner Yogi
A residential yoga break is good for mind, body and soul. But you don't have to travel all the way to Thailand, Sri Lanka or India. There are short-stay course options all across Victoria (check out Griffins Hill and Hummingbird Eco Retreat for starters)."A break from routines even for a couple of days can give us the reboot required to reset new patterns and shift into more positive modes of thinking," says yoga instructor Vanessa Beal. "Even if you're a complete novice, a yoga break will introduce you to the practise as well as yoga's breathing and calming meditation techniques so that, as well as a health reboot, you're learning how to bring more focus and calm back into every area of your life." Added bonus? The food on a yoga retreat is often healthy, nutritious and delicious too.
Hit The Snow
As invigorating, feel good breaks go it's hard to go past a ski weekend. From skiing, snowboarding and toboganning on Falls Creek, Mt Hotham or Mt Buller to cross country skiing and Husky sled dog tours on Mt Baw Baw – or even snowshoeing or a good old fashioned snowball fight on Mt Buffalo, Victorian ski fields are difficult to beat when it comes to fun. Even if a vigourous day on the slopes isn't for you, alpine villages and resorts such as and Dinner Plain, Bright and historic Beechworth also offer bespoke pampering spas and of course, countless bars and restaurants offering the perfect après ski mulled wine in front of an open fire -- all great ways to relax at the snow without actually hitting the slopes.
Know When To Indulge Yourself
As well as being the only place in Australia you can experience natural mineral and geothermal waters without needing your passport -- Victorian spas can have a noticeable impact on your well-being. "Even when just used recreationally, there's no doubt that hot spring bathing is a great way to de-stress, unwind and especially in the case of an outdoor spring like those on the Mornington Peninsula for example, reconnect with the beauty of nature," says well-being consultant Dr Jodi Richardson. Luckily, Victoria is the spa capital of Australia -- but don't discount the many other sensory experiences you can indulge in when you book a few days of massage, spa treatments and me-time. Some of Victoria's premier hot springs also offer great pit stops for dining and shopping -- think Hepburn Springs in the Daylesford region. Or, for wineries and picking up fresh, local produce, Peninsula Hot Springs on the Mornington Peninsula is close to 170 vineyards, as well as farmer's markets and roadside stalls. Which means picking up flavoured olive oils, handcrafted cheeses and of course, a good bottle of regional grape -- can sit just below a full body salt scrub at the top of your to-do list!
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