Staycation ideas to benefit your health

Have friends for dinner staycation ideas

It’s hard to think of anything much that COVID-19 hasn’t cancelled or changed this year. Holidays are no exception for me. For the second summer running, vacations to exotic sun-drenched shores are – for many of us – still off the agenda. The inconvenience, expense and the sheer unrelenting uncertainty over red lists, quarantine and testing are proving a serious disincentive to fly anywhere far-flung. But that doesn’t mean you have to forgo yet another holiday. I think the solution is to recalibrate what a holiday actually means.

Sarah standing in kitchen
I’m a complete convert to staycations. After my stay-at-home break last month I felt rested, refreshed and both mentally and physically re-energised

Last month I treated myself to a ‘staycation’, and it was unexpectedly amazing. Even though I didn’t go abroad, I gave my mind and body a rest, and a chance to really re-set. At the end of my break, I felt refreshed, re-energised and raring to go again. I’m pretty sure staycations mean different things to different people. For some of us, it’s all about staying at home, but exploring our local area. For others, a staycation is a holiday in the UK (not spent at home). Whichever option appeals, I’ve researched a selection of different staycation ideas, to help you relax, recharge, and face the future with fortitude. In, fact, I enjoyed my last one so much, I’ve decided to take another one with the husband in September!

Domestic bliss

al fresco dining staycation ideas
A staycation is the perfect opportunity to explore all your local restaurants – and hopefully discover a hidden foodie gem!

What are the best bits about going on holiday? If your answer involves a break from cooking and cleaning, and not just escaping from your emails, why not turn your home into a hotel? Before your staycation begins, treat yourself to some fancy new bed linen and tableware. Organise a one-off deep clean so that your home is gleaming  – most specialist companies offer this service. Stock up on your favourite food and drink, but make sure you book some swanky restaurant dinners or take-away/deliveries too. Conversely, if you enjoy cooking, but never have time when you’re working, consider a recipe box delivery service, such as HelloFresh, Gousto or Mindful Chef. You could even hire a private chef and/or mixologist to create the ultimate evening in. Different staycation ideas like this help us to physically relax, and boost our mood and wellbeing too.

Kate Morris Bates staycation ideas
Clinical Therapist, Wellness Expert and Founder of Inside Out Wellness Kate Morris-Bates is a seasoned staycationer who insists you don’t need to travel far away to reap the real rewards of a holiday

“However enticing it sounds, you don’t actually need to jet off to a far-flung destination to reap the rewards of a holiday,” confirms Kate Morris-Bates, a Clinical Therapist, Wellness Expert and Founder of Inside Out Wellness Ltd. “While aspects of our post-lockdown lives are becoming increasingly normal, overseas travel is still not one of them. Either through preference or through lack of viable alternatives, the staycation is the natural holiday choice for many of us this year. As an enthusiastic summer staycationer of more than a decade, I have personal experience of how a staycation can bring many mental health benefits.”

Seaside vibes

Beach Huts, Southwold, East Anglia
Some of the world’s best beaches are in Britain. Add a beach hut booking to your staycation to beat the unreliable British weather!

The silky sands and turquoise seas of the Caribbean may be out of reach for a while yet. But there are plenty of beautiful beaches here in the UK. If you have options relatively near you, do make the most of them. Southwold, Aldeburgh and Felixstowe beaches aren’t too far away from me, and I always enjoy my time there – even when the weather isn’t ideal!

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, just poor clothing!” agrees Kate. “No British summer can guarantee wall-to-wall sunshine. But this doesn’t mean you can’t dress appropriately to enjoy the mental health boost of being outdoors. Studies have shown that natural daylight prompts the body to produce the happy hormone serotonin, which fills your body and mind with a feeling of wellness.”

There’s plenty of scientific research to explain why being near water (and especially the sea) really does make us feel happy. The colours, the aromas, the acoustics, even the negative ions generated by ocean waves, all play a part. Most of us associate being at the beach with happy holiday memories. So packing a picnic (or your waterproofs) and simply spending time beside the sea really is one of the best staycation ideas to benefit your mental health. To elevate your beach outing into something really special, why not rent a beach hut? They make a brilliant base to explore from – and also provide shelter from the elements!

Soul food

Have friends for dinner staycation ideas
Make your staycation sociable by inviting friends round for dinner – but keep the stress to a minimum by letting the likes of Waitrose or M&S take the strain!

A staycation is a great excuse to serve dinner for friends or explore your local foodie scene. Enjoy being a tourist in your own town. Hunt down new places for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There’s almost always a hidden gem to discover, such as a trendy new cocktail bar or an innovative organic café. Another of my favourite staycation ideas is to treat myself to a fancy dinner combined with an overnight stay. This works particularly well if the restaurant in question isn’t quite as local as I’d like. An eaterie with rooms attached is the perfect combination. It’s also perfect when you don’t have to worry about getting up early for work the next day. It also means nobody draws the short straw of being the Designated Driver. An overnight stay at The Ickworth Hotel in Suffolk is currently on my wish-list.

The challenge of change

Most of us are creatures of habit, comfortable doing the same things time after time. But trying something new can stimulate us physically, emotionally and intellectually. So I’ve made sure to include some staycation ideas that incorporate a range of different activities and settings.

chef staycation ideas
Can’t travel to your favourite fancy hotel? Bring the hotel to you! For the ultimate staycation treat, book a private chef and mixologist to create your own super-exclusive restaurant

“[A staycation] is an opportunity to broaden your horizons with different types of holidays, from camping to luxury hotels, from off-grid to city breaks,” Kate agrees. “Trying new things pushes you out of your comfort zone and what better way to do this than spending time exploring accommodation and environments you have not chosen to immerse yourself in previously.”

She continues: “Being a creature of habit is not always a good thing when it comes to mental health, because it usually comes from a position of fear: ‘what if I don’t like it?’. The mind exaggerates the risk of trying new things. So, a summer staycation is an ideal way of overcoming these mentally limiting beliefs to try a new experience.”

Activity break

If you’re staying at home, be open to staycation ideas that allow you to really explore your surroundings, in a way you haven’t before. Buy a map, or a walking guide, or hire a bike. If you’re keen to go further afield – but still stay within the UK – why not consider a specialist activity holiday? There are all sorts of options to choose from, ranging from forest adventure holidays to Pilates retreats to swim trekking.

Glamping camping teepee tent and chairs at the campsite.
If your favourite fancy hotel is fully booked, try a tent instead! There are lots of alternative accommodation options to try on your UK staycation. Why not try camping or glamping?

Of course, a staycation doesn’t have to be action-packed. You could brush up your cookery skills, try your hand at oil painting, or learn a new language. Seize every opportunity to experiment! Instead of lamenting that all the five-star hotels in Cornwall were booked up months ago, embrace the opportunity to try something else. Camping, glamping or staying in a picturesque pod spring to my mind. After all, if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll never know what joys the unexpected might bring!

Cycling is great fun and this could be the perfect addition to your staycation this summer. Discover its benefits from helping to protect the environment to improving mental health and top tips on how to get started here.

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