5 Reasons A Beach Vacation Is Healthy

 

Whether you’re looking for a high-energy vacation destination or one that focuses on relaxation, a trip to the beach can fill the bill.

A beach vacation offers many proven health benefits. Below are five ways a beach vacation can make you and your family feel better and more productive.

The Beach Magnifies Creativity

Rooted in science, the beach is believed to boost creativity.

That’s because the color blue (big blue skies, blue water), while also associated with feelings of calm and peace, can actually improve your ability to brainstorm.

“Through associations with the sky, the ocean and water, most people associate blue with openness, peace and tranquility,” says Juliet Zhu, who conducted research on color association for the University of British Columbia. “The benign cues make people feel safe about being creative and exploratory. Not surprisingly, [blue] is people’s favorite color.”

Her study found that blue environmental cues, such as those seen at the beach, prompted study participants to produce twice as many creative outputs as the color red, for example.

The Beach Relieves Stress

When you’re lying on the beach, the rhythmic washing in and out of the waves and the gentle call of the seagulls are predominant sounds. These sounds work to de-stimulate our brains.

Furthermore, the fragrant salt air naturally inspires what’s called the “relaxation response,” a phrase coined by American Institute of Stress Founding Trustee and Fellow Dr. Herbert Benson.

Benson says that the relaxation response is a physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional response to stress, actually decreasing the heart rate, blood pressure, rate of breathing and muscle tension.

At the beach, people tend to breathe a little deeper—from the abdomen—thus reducing stress.

The American Institute of Stress reports that abdominal breathing for 20 to 30 minutes each day will reduce anxiety and reduce stress. It says that “deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness. Breathing techniques help you feel connected to your body—it brings your awareness away from the worries in your head and quiets your mind.”

Staring out at the Gulf can also change the frequency of our brain waves so that we are put into a mild meditative state. Simply put, watching the waves helps us zone out for a little while, creating a quieter mind.

A quieter mind leads to better sleep. In fact, as early as the 1700s, a walk on the beach was prescribed as a remedy to a variety of ills, including sleeplessness, depression and bad mood.

A study conducted for the United Kingdom’s National Trust found that participants who walked by water slept an average of 47 minutes longer than the group who stuck to land. In addition, those who walked near water experienced greater alertness in the morning.

Researchers said they attribute this improvement in the ability to sleep to the restorative benefits of the coastal environment coupled with the “escape” from daily life typically experienced when on a beach vacation.

The Beach Elevates Vitamin D

The beaches of the Gulf Shores area are bathed in sunshine the majority of the time, giving beachgoers the opportunity to reap the benefits of Vitamin D year round.

The Vitamin D Council says the most natural way to get Vitamin D is by exposing bare skin to sunlight while paying particular attention to avoid burning your skin, of course.

Vitamin D plays an essential role in regulating calcium and maintaining the appropriate levels of phosphorus in the blood. These are two factors that are very important in maintaining healthy bones.

Vitamin D also supports the health of the immune system, brain and nervous system; regulates insulin levels; supports lung function and cardiovascular health; and influences the expression of genes involved in cancer development, according to “Medical News Today.”

With beaches bathed in sunlight, spending time at the beach can provide a very efficient means to increase Vitamin D intake and improve overall health.

The Beach Gets You Moving

Regardless of whether you exercise regularly, a beach vacation will get you moving, aiding in overall fitness and well-being.

Of course, a beach is a great place for a regular workout thanks to the fresh air, open space and extra cardiovascular benefit of moving while sand is shifting under your feet. Not to mention the benefits gained from all that good Vitamin D your skin will produce from exposure to sunlight!

Build a sandcastle with the kids and walk back and forth to the water. Play a game of Frisbee and do a little running (running on sand, while challenging, provides less resistance on joints), or take an early morning run on the beach to sneak in some exercise.

Even if you don’t consider yourself an active person, the energy required to walk out onto the sugar-white, soft sand to stake your claim for the day is likely to elevate your heart rate.

A walk, whether by the water where the sand is a bit firmer, or in the soft, dry sand set back from the water, is a healthy way to get moving.

Don’t think of a beach walk as exercise. View it as a way to explore the area’s diverse wildlife, collect shells, see beautiful beach houses from the water, and so much more.

There are so many great places to explore on foot in and around Gulf Shores. Enjoy the 2.5-mile-long Gulf State Park beach area, including the Gulf State Pier or the lovely pavilion.

Head down to Fort Morgan for a walk on the beaches just outside the Civil War-era fort. Bring your leashed dog to the beaches of Fort Morgan. Your best friend is welcome there as long as you clean up after him!

While you’re in the Fort Morgan area, be sure to visit the beaches of the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, where you will enjoy views of Little Lagoon, perhaps an alligator family, a bobcat or an Alabama beach mouse.

A favorite spot to walk for locals and visitors alike is the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail. The trail takes walkers and bikers through more than 15 miles of unique landscapes in Orange Beach, Gulf Shores and Gulf State Park, where you’ll see the Butterfly Garden, freshwater marshes and coastal hardwood swamps.

Feed your body and your mind by taking in the natural beauty that surrounds you during a walk on the beaches, trails or other areas.

The Beach Boosts Beauty

The beach is good for your skin. The sand is a natural exfoliant, rubbing away dead skin cells and letting your pores breath.

Saltwater contains many vitamins, amino acids, and minerals like magnesium, potassium and sulfur. Even in ancient times, the Greeks proclaimed the curative powers of seawater.

Saltwater has a natural antiseptic drying agent that can be used to treat acne breakouts. It can also be beneficial for healing minor cuts and calming conditions like eczema or psoriasis.

And, swimming in Gulf waters can be less drying to your skin and hair than, say, swimming in a pool.

As with anything, moderation is key to experiencing maximum benefit. Thus, it is important to remember to rinse saltwater after swimming and also to apply sunscreen to avoid excessive exposure to the sun.

Enjoy the beach and all the activities you can do during your visit from a four-bedroom condo in Orange Beach or a 5+-bedroom beach house anywhere along the 38-mile stretch of beach stretching from Fort Morgan to Perdido Key.

5 Tips For Having A Successful Vacation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are many well-known reasons to take a vacation. Among numerous other benefits, vacations relieve stress, help workers focus, make them happier, strengthen relationships, and make employees more productive when they return to work.

But it’s important to remember that simply taking time off does not guarantee a vacation will be successful. To fully reap the benefits, there are a few things workers should do before, during and after their vacations, said Bill Watts, employee relations manager for SH Enterprises Inc., the parent company of Gulf Shores, Ala.-based Meyer Vacation Rentals.

Bill WattsWatts is responsible for counseling and assisting employees with work-related or personal concerns and otherwise providing employee support as needed. His services are one of the many ways Meyer parent company SH Enterprises Inc., recently voted one of the Best Companies to Work for in Alabama in 2017, works to help employees stay happy, healthy and productive.

“It’s very important not to let work cause stress in our personal and family lives—not just for ourselves but also for our families. When someone gives everything to their job, something is left out. And, most of the time, it’s our families,” Watts said.

Watts entered the ministry as a pastor in 1976 but also held a job in the corporate world and attended college at the same time. As a minister, he provided support to members of his congregation while also managing his own busy work and family life.

As he worked, attended school and raised a family, retired from the ministry and one corporate career, and embarked on a completely new career at SH Enterprises in 2011, Watts said he learned some very important lessons about work-life balance that he passes on to his SH Enterprises colleagues today.

“For 37 years, I was a pastor of a church and almost all of that time worked a secular job. Because of that, many times, when my children were involved in activities, I did not get to spend the time with them that they would have liked for me to,” he said. “I didn’t realize until they were adults that they often felt shortchanged. They had resentment I didn’t understand until they were adults. It’s very important to pay attention to the needs of our families. And one of those needs is for our time.”

Watts said taking time to care for our own loved ones—and ourselves — is vital to finding happiness at work.

“Simply put, we are not going to be happy or successful in our work lives if our home lives are not happy. It is especially important to plan time to be with family, not just spend time with them when you have a few minutes.”

To make the most of time off the job, there are five things Watts suggested everyone do before, during and after a vacation.

1. Tie Up Loose Ends & Communicate

If you know you’re going to be away a month from now, try to leave as few loose ends as possible, Watts suggested. “Also, communicate to your colleagues that you are going to be away on vacation and that you will not be as accessible as you normally would be. Make them aware you won’t be checking emails every time you hear a ding or that you’ll only look at emails once or twice a day. At the same time, if there is a real emergency—if someone needs something right then—tell them they should call you and that if you don’t answer, you will call them back. This creates peace of mind for you and instills confidence and trust in your team.”

2. Lean On Your Team

It takes discipline to disconnect from regular work duties during vacation. However, giving direction to teammates about handling important tasks that may come up in your absence can help relieve pressure and help you focus your attention on the family.

“Empower whoever is going to be in charge in your absence to make decisions within certain parameters. Let them know that they can make whatever decision is needed. Not only will this help you vacation with greater confidence, but it will also help your teammates grow and develop in their own jobs.  While you’re away, you don’t need to worry about what’s not getting done. Enjoy your family. If there’s something that the person you’ve empowered can’t manage, realize that you can deal with it when you get back. There’s likely nothing you could do while you are out anyway.”

3. Limit Work Interruptions

“Remember that time away means time away. I urge people here all the time when we talk about stress and planning for vacation to realize that a true vacation can’t really happen if they still answer all their calls or emails. Many of our team members are in the position of taking calls from guests or vacation rental owners and feel like they can’t really get away because they must always be available to meet others’ needs.”

Watts advised that if workers simply must review emails while on vacation, they should only respond to those that simply cannot wait or be rerouted to a colleague to handle.

4. Prioritize Your Work Upon Your Return

Watts said when he plans for a vacation, he organizes and completes important tasks in advance. However, he is prepared for there to be numerous tasks to manage upon his return.

Rather than allowing himself to become overwhelmed when he returns to work, he prioritizes emails and tasks by deciding which ones must be handled immediately and which ones can wait until the next day or even the day after that.

“Prioritizing is a way to organize your time and energies or efforts to help you manage the workload when you return,” Watts said.

5. Kick The Fear

Watts said many people avoid taking time off from work because they fear their employer will find they can get along without them or their role in the company. This fear is unfounded, he cautioned.

“You shouldn’t worry that just because a team member can cover your duties for a few days, the managers are going to think they can get along without your position,” Watts said. “You must realize and accept your value and your position’s value to the company and understand that just because a co-worker can double up for a short time does not mean they can do it for an extended period of time.”

When such thoughts pop up in your mind during a vacation, Watts had this advice: “Turn to your family or return what you were doing. Refocus on enjoying the moment.”

Watts reinforced the need for workers to plan and enjoy productive vacations. “We are mentally, emotionally and physically healthier when we enjoy planned time away from work. Through a bit of self-management, we can vacation with confidence and return to work refreshed and more productive.”

ABOUT SH ENTERPRISES: Voted one of the Best Companies to Work for in Alabama in 2017, SH Enterprises Inc. is the umbrella company for CENTURY 21 Meyer Real Estate for real estate sales and long-term rentals; Meyer Vacation Rentals for vacation rental management on the Alabama/Northwest Florida Gulf Coast; and Starr Textile Services of Alabama and Louisiana, with two commercial laundry facilities serving the Gulf Coast hospitality industry.

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