Blue Skies Ahead: Why Booking a Getaway is the Best Cure for Blue Monday
Blue Skies Ahead: Why Booking a Getaway is the Best Cure for Blue Monday - The Science Behind the Winter Blues
The winter blues are real, and there's scientific evidence to back it up. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons. It most commonly begins in fall or winter when there's less sunlight and typically goes away in spring and summer.
Research shows that the lack of sunlight in winter leads to a drop in serotonin, the "feel good" brain chemical that helps regulate mood. Sunlight also affects the body's circadian rhythm and melatonin levels, which regulate sleep. Disruption to these biological rhythms can throw off your internal clock and cause depression symptoms like low energy, increased appetite, weight gain, and sleep problems.
Light therapy, which exposes you to artificial bright light that mimics sunlight, has proven an effective treatment for SAD. Light therapists recommend using a 10,000 lux light box for 30 minutes or more per day. The light triggers receptors in the retina, which send signals to the brain that boost mood and ease other SAD symptoms.
While light therapy works for many, lifestyle factors like getting outdoors, exercising, and socializing can also make a difference. One study found that an hour's walk outdoors was just as effective at treating SAD as two and a half hours with a light box. Exposure to sunlight during the walk stimulated serotonin production.
Planning a warm getaway is another way to literally head towards the light. According to Dr. Norman Rosenthal, psychiatrist and SAD specialist, traveling south for sun exposure in winter is like “taking a natural antidepressant.” The sunshine boosts your vitamin D levels and stimulates feel-good endorphins too.
What else is in this post?
- Blue Skies Ahead: Why Booking a Getaway is the Best Cure for Blue Monday - The Science Behind the Winter Blues
- Blue Skies Ahead: Why Booking a Getaway is the Best Cure for Blue Monday - Chasing Sunshine: Head South for a Dose of Vitamin D
- Blue Skies Ahead: Why Booking a Getaway is the Best Cure for Blue Monday - Island Time: Disconnect on a Tropical Beach Getaway
- Blue Skies Ahead: Why Booking a Getaway is the Best Cure for Blue Monday - Hit the Slopes: Outdoor Winter Adventure Awaits
- Blue Skies Ahead: Why Booking a Getaway is the Best Cure for Blue Monday - Take to the Skies: Visit Far Flung Destinations
- Blue Skies Ahead: Why Booking a Getaway is the Best Cure for Blue Monday - Treat Yourself: Book a Luxury Hotel or Resort
- Blue Skies Ahead: Why Booking a Getaway is the Best Cure for Blue Monday - Eat, Drink and Be Merry: Indulge on a Foodie Getaway
- Blue Skies Ahead: Why Booking a Getaway is the Best Cure for Blue Monday - Explore Nearby: Find a New Favorite Closer to Home
Blue Skies Ahead: Why Booking a Getaway is the Best Cure for Blue Monday - Chasing Sunshine: Head South for a Dose of Vitamin D
When that winter funk starts to set in, sometimes you just need sunshine and warmth to lift your spirits. Heading south to warmer latitudes is an instant mood-booster and comes with the added benefit of stocking up on much-needed vitamin D. With peak savings on flights this time of year, now is the perfect opportunity to book a rejuvenating escape.
Vitamin D is crucial for bone health and your immune system, and many of us become deficient during the winter months when sunlight is scarce. Some studies have even linked low vitamin D to seasonal depression. Getting adequate sun exposure boosts vitamin D production and just a few days in a sunny location can make a big difference. Places like Arizona, Florida, Mexico, and the Caribbean are ideal for sunshine seekers needing their fix of vitamin D.
Louise, a school teacher from Chicago, used to struggle with low energy every winter. “I dreaded the cold months. I’d feel fatigued no matter how much I rested and often felt down,” she says. After learning she had a vitamin D deficiency, her doctor suggested booking a southern vacation over winter break. “It was like someone flipped a switch. After just one week soaking up the sun in Cancun, I felt amazing. I had so much energy when I returned home,” Louise recalls. She now escapes to sunny destinations annually to keep her vitamin D levels optimal.
Mark, a software engineer from Ohio, used to dismiss the winter blues as just part of living in a cold climate. “I didn’t realize how much it was affecting me each year. I gained weight, lost motivation, and wanted to hibernate,” he explains. During one particularly rough winter, his wife surprised him with a birthday weekend getaway to Key West. Mark was amazed at how quickly his outlook changed. “I felt like a new person after a few days on the beach under the palm trees. The warm sun was so energizing,” he says. Since then, Mark has made tropical trips an annual tradition. He plans them around the time change in November when winter dread starts to set in.
The boost in mood and energy that sunshine provides is undeniable. Samantha, a teacher from Minnesota, used to welcome summer and dread winter’s return. “No matter what I did, I couldn’t shake the seasonal depression. Being cooped up indoors left me feeling gloomy,” she recalls. On a friend’s advice, Samantha planned a President’s Week trip to check out schools in Arizona. After touring campuses, she spent time relaxing poolside at her hotel. “It was just what I needed. I suddenly felt motivated and looked forward to the rest of the semester,” she says. Samantha has since spent Spring Break somewhere warm and has maintained her upbeat mindset during winter.
Blue Skies Ahead: Why Booking a Getaway is the Best Cure for Blue Monday - Island Time: Disconnect on a Tropical Beach Getaway
Island time is more than just a saying - it's a state of mind. When you're on island time, you surrender to a slower pace and the tropical rhythm of the sea. Daily stresses and demands fade away as you focus on simple pleasures like swimming, reading, and gazing at sunsets. A beach vacation on an island paradise provides the perfect place to unplug, decompress, and melt into island life.
Craving a digital detox? An island escape makes it easy to disconnect. With shoddy Wi-Fi and limited cell service, you can take a much-needed break from email and social media. Former tech exec Elisa used to constantly check work email, even on vacation. A trip to a remote Fijian island changed that. "It was blissful being disconnected. I realized I'm not going to miss anything urgent. Once I surrendered my 24/7 accessibility, I felt free," she said.
Island time is as much an outlook as a location. "It's about appreciating the moment instead of watching the clock," says beach bum Ryan, who spends winters in Barbados. The Caribbean vibe is contagious. "I find myself tuning into nature's rhythm. My worries fade away as I watch the palm trees sway in the breeze or take a nap under the casuarina pines."
Taking things slowly and mindfully on island time leads to a refreshed mindset. Type A Lisa found her perspective shifted after a sailing trip in the Grenadines. "I was forced to stop multi-tasking and enjoy single moments - jumping off the boat, identifying a new fish or bird. I returned home less stressed, with renewed creativity and focus," she said.
Soaking up vitamin sea every day is healing. Studies show the relaxing sound of waves lowers heart rate and blood pressure. The rejuvenating negative ions from sea air and sunshine boost serotonin and immunity. Jacqui, an accountant always burnt out after tax season, started visiting Puerto Rico for self-care. "Beach walks, reading novels poolside, long ocean swims - it's therapy. I get my spark back after a week doing 'nothing' on island time."
Blue Skies Ahead: Why Booking a Getaway is the Best Cure for Blue Monday - Hit the Slopes: Outdoor Winter Adventure Awaits
Whether you’re a diehard skier or just looking to rosy up those cheeks in the crisp mountain air, winter is an ideal time to head for higher elevations and hit the slopes. Booking a ski trip, even just a long weekend getaway, delivers an infusion of vitality when you’re craving action over hibernation. The exhilaration of speeding down a tree-lined trail, with fresh powder spraying in your wake, is a surefire cure for the winter blahs.
Jeff, an avid snowboarder from Denver, never imagined he’d be able to afford regular ski trips. He started strategically monitoring flight deals to mountain destinations and discovered off-peak midweek dates were substantially cheaper. “I was finding roundtrips for under $100. By adding one or two ski days to an existing work trip, I’ve managed to carve out extra time on the mountain without blowing my budget,” he says.
New skier Morgan was wary of planning a ski vacation as a newbie. Her athlete friends convinced her to join their annual winter weekend at Deer Valley in Utah. She took lessons on the first morning and was soon comfortably cruising the blues. “Learning to ski ended up being so fun and rewarding. I loved the apres-ski scene too - sitting by an outdoor firepit, sipping hot toddies with new friends.”
Beyond downhill sports, wintry mountain towns also offer plenty of things to do for non-skiers. Most resorts provide access to extensive cross-country ski and snowshoe trail networks. You can also try exhilarating winter activities like tubing, ice skating, sleigh rides, or even dog sledding.
Sara, a warm-weather aficionado from Atlanta, used to refuse her husband’s annual effort to drag her on a ski trip. “I thought it would be miserable in the freezing cold. But when I finally relented, I realized there’s so much to do off the slopes.” She enjoyed spending days browsing the stylish boutiques and museums in Aspen, snowshoeing through breathtaking evergreen forests, and unwinding in the hot tub under the stars.
No matter your activity preference or skill level on the mountain, a ski trip offers ample opportunity to revel in the beauty of a snow-covered landscape. Different elevation ranges provide varied terrain, from lofty peaks to wide valleys. Mountains also get more sunshine compared to cities, so you can soak up the warm rays on a brilliant bluebird day. The thin air often brings deep sleep at night after tiring yourself out playing in powder.
Blue Skies Ahead: Why Booking a Getaway is the Best Cure for Blue Monday - Take to the Skies: Visit Far Flung Destinations
Whether it’s exploring the ancient ruins of Petra in Jordan or witnessing the majestic peaks of Patagonia, visiting far-flung destinations feeds the soul. When you venture well beyond your comfort zone to somewhere completely foreign, your perspective shifts in incredible ways. Booking a trip to a distant corner of the globe might seem daunting, but it delivers once-in-a-lifetime experiences that you’ll cherish forever.
For adventure-seeker Kevin, joining a multi-country tour of Southeast Asia proved life-changing. “As we trekked through lush jungle in northern Thailand, stayed in bamboo huts floating on Halong Bay, and rode rickshaws through chaotic streets of Bangkok, I gained a whole new appreciation for this part of the world,” he recalls. Though the long flights and basic lodging weren’t always easy, Kevin says the cultural immersion was worth it.
Backpacker Leah fulfilled her longtime dream of exploring Australia’s iconic Outback. “Seeing breathtaking natural wonders like Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef made me feel so small yet connected to the planet,” she says. Camping under the stars in the remote landscapes far from city lights was an experience she’ll never forget.
Margo and James were wary of the safety risks traveling to Egypt, but a phenomenal private guide made them feel cared for. “The pyramids were awe-inspiring. But our guide’s insights into daily life enriched the trip far beyond mere sightseeing,” Margo says. They gained perspective on regional politics while camel trekking into the desert.
Visiting lesser-known destinations pushes you outside your comfort zone. But you gain resilience while navigating unfamiliar customs and languages. Architect Frank found his communication skills improved after solo trips to countries including Namibia, Oman, and Guatemala. “When you can’t rely on technology, you really have to listen and find creative ways to connect,” he reflects.
Blue Skies Ahead: Why Booking a Getaway is the Best Cure for Blue Monday - Treat Yourself: Book a Luxury Hotel or Resort
After a dreary winter, an indulgent getaway at a lavish hotel or resort is just what you need to revive the senses. Why settle for dreary when you can experience sheer luxury? Booking a stay at an upscale property, even if just for a night or two, is an ideal antidote for the winter doldrums. Treat yourself to amenities galore and service fit for royalty. You’ll return home feeling like a million bucks.
Melanie used to feel guilty about splurging on luxury hotels for fear of “wasting money.” But after a rough period dealing with work burnout and a bad breakup, her best friend convinced her to book a California spa retreat. “Stepping into that beautiful oasis with waterfalls, private bungalows, and world-class spa treatments was like entering another world. I surrendered and let go of all responsibilities to focus just on feeling good,” Melanie explains. Indulging in massage therapy, yoga, and healthy gourmet cuisine left her feeling mentally and physically renewed.
James wanted to surprise his wife for their 10th anniversary. He booked a Caribbean escape at an ultra-luxe adults-only resort known for over-the-top pampering. “I’ve never seen her so relaxed! She raved about the afternoon tea ritual on the verandah, the homemade rum tasting, and the stargazing from the rooftop hot tub,” James says. Splurging on a once-in-a-lifetime luxurious experience was worth every penny to see his wife so happy.
For type-A real estate agent Alicia, an annual girls’ spa weekend is sacred. She discovered off-peak times at high-end resorts offer huge savings. “I monitor opening dates at luxury new properties and lock in intro deals up to 50% off. Our spring tradition brings together friends who’ve moved away and recharges me for the year ahead,” she says. Facials, body treatments, champagne – it’s the ultimate posh getaway without blowing the budget.
Booking award travel using credit card points is a savvy way to treat yourself without extra costs. Ryan and his wife cashed in rewards from their sign-up bonus for an overwater villa in Bora Bora. “Free flights and five-star beachfront digs in French Polynesia? That alone made getting the card worthwhile,” Ryan says. Planning in the off-season brought huge point discounts.
Blue Skies Ahead: Why Booking a Getaway is the Best Cure for Blue Monday - Eat, Drink and Be Merry: Indulge on a Foodie Getaway
Wintertime often ushers in comfort food cravings. We dream of decadent dishes and cozy dining spots to warm our bellies and lift our spirits. Booking a getaway to an amazing food city checks all the boxes. Experiencing the flavors of a celebrated culinary destination nourishes your soul and reinvigorates your senses.
Oenophiles Amy and Steve escape dreary Chicago winters with weekend wine tasting trips to Napa. Beyond savoring complex Cabernets in welcoming tasting rooms, they indulge in farm-to-table fare at restaurants like The French Laundry. “In the dead of winter, nibbling charcuterie boards al fresco in sunny California wine country feels like heaven,” Amy says.
Las Vegas may be known for casinos, but it’s also a foodie paradise. Marketing exec Susan started taking short solo trips to indulge her passion for dining out. “I discovered I could dine at Michelin-starred restaurants for a fraction of what I’d pay in New York. And without gambling, Vegas hotels were surprisingly affordable,” she explains. She loves awakening her palate with molecular gastronomy on Celebrity chef tasting menus along with taking cooking classes.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was its food culture. Italian teacher Mario brings small groups of students to the Eternal City to learn about the origin of dishes like carbonara and cacio e pepe. “Tasting melt-in-your mouth homemade pasta and gelato provides beautiful moments for connection and appreciation of time-honored traditions,” he says. His students return home eager to recreate regional specialties.
Canada's east coast is prized for incredible seafood, especially Nova Scotia lobster. Marine biologist Lynn makes regular weekend escapes with her teenage daughters from Boston to Nova Scotia during off-season for buttery lobster rolls and chowders bursting with briny flavor. “Experiencing the catch of the day prepared dockside gives such an appreciation for ocean and food cycles,” she says. Her girls love wandering the fishing villages and crashing on cozy cottages.
“New Orleans in the winter has a coziness you don't get in the heat of summer,” says architect Chris, who enjoys work trips more after discovering the city’s festive holiday dining scene. Sipping spiked café au lait and feasting on shrimp etouffee provides a comforting cure for the winter blues. “It feels indulgent yet authentic to dine there seasonally on Creole and Cajun specialties," he says. Music clubs add to the warm conviviality too.
Blue Skies Ahead: Why Booking a Getaway is the Best Cure for Blue Monday - Explore Nearby: Find a New Favorite Closer to Home
Sometimes the most rejuvenating discoveries are hidden in your own backyard. While far-flung adventures have their appeal, local gems often go undiscovered because they’re so easily accessible. Exploring your own region with fresh eyes rewards you with new favorite experiences without the hassle of lengthy travel.
Courtney was bored of the same old restaurants and shops in her suburban New Jersey town. She started seeking out main streets in nearby small towns on weekend road trips with her husband. “Just 30 minutes down the road, we found amazing mom and pop eateries, indie bookstores, and cool galleries we never knew existed,” she says. Getting to know locally-owned businesses made her feel more connected to the community.
Living near the beach in San Diego, Miles had stopped appreciating the ocean views right outside his window. At a friend’s suggestion, he started visiting different less-crowded beaches up the coastline. “I couldn’t believe how unique each one was - craggy coves, breezy bluffs, secluded strands. Now I feel like I live in an endless resort,” he says. Exploring uncharted nearby shores renewed his sense of awe when gazing out at the water.
When Sonia relocated to Houston for a new job, she sought out lesser-known green spaces to combat homesickness for her native Colorado. Just an hour from downtown, she uncovered wooded state parks perfect for hiking and biking. “The tranquil forests reminded me of childhood camping trips with my dad. I discovered so much wild beauty right in the city's backyard,” she says. Escape to nature revitalized her after stressful work weeks.
Emily wanted to plan local weekend road trips with her mom, who was hesitant to travel far from home in Alexandria, Virginia. Emily created fun outings to historic downtowns full of architectural character, wineries set amid rolling hills, and charming small museums. “Mom loved discovering places representing eras she lived through and how communities evolved over time,” Emily says. Meandering together created cherished bonding time.
Trevor’s demanding job kept him tethered to Atlanta, unable to take extended vacations. Seeking culture, he investigated his own city’s diverse ethnic enclaves. “I found an amazing Peruvian cafe, learned about Mexican history at a street festival, and ate incredible Indian curries in a hidden strip mall,” he recalls. Immersing locally provided global perspective that enriched his everyday life.
By avoiding the tendency to underestimate what’s close by, you uncover a sense of adventure right in your own neighborhood. Outdoor enthusiast Ashley downloaded a birdwatching app and was amazed by species she spotted at nearby parks and nature preserves. “I felt like I was on a tropical safari getting to know herons, woodpeckers, and egrets up close,” she says. Coming home with a new hobby brought joy.