Thanks to exciting new tech, you can enjoy the benefits of a vacation, minus the hassles of travel.
By: Natalie Holmes
Vacations are not just fun. They also play a key role in physical and emotional wellbeing, as well as bringing new perspectives to productivity in work and life. Studies have shownthat vacations relieve stress, maintain focus, strengthen relationships and even improve your quality of sleep. Like we really needed research to tell us that, right? #TeamPTO
However, some people apparently aren’t as #TeamPTO as they should be. According to a Nielsen report, 74 percent of people surveyed believe vacations are important in their life. At the same time, a whopping 52 percent did not take all of their paid vacation days, and 27 percent have cut down on their vacation time over the last five years.
It seems we understand the importance of a break, but with all the responsibilities and financial stresses than sometimes come with vacations, sometimes struggle to actually make it happen. What if you could experience some of the best benefits of a vacation, without the expense and pressure of travel? Well, thanks to some exciting new tech, now you can. Introducing the ‘virtual vacation.’
Get in the Right Headspace
Meditation is a powerful way to de-stress and unwind. Studies show it can even change your brain, making you more calm, resilient and creative. Plus, it has been shown to have positive effects similar to those you get from a vacation, reducing stress and boosting the immune system.
A popular misconception about meditation is that it requires you to completely empty your mind — a feat so daunting and seemingly impossible that many people simply avoid the endeavor altogether. Yet, meditation really is as simple as sitting quietly and watching your thoughts. These days there are a number of smartphone apps that make it even easier, so you can start reaping the benefits of meditation to your body and mind.
Using distracting digital devices to disconnect may feel counter-intuitive, but smartphones are actually the perfect companion. Constantly with us, smartphones are able to deliver audio, images and timely reminders. Headspace is among the most popular meditation apps, with over 11 million downloads, and a range of animations and guided meditations that slowly introduce methods and practices. There is a subscription charge that starts at $7.99 a month — perhaps not cheap for an app, but a lot more manageable than a vacation.
For a free option, Insight Timer is the highest rated meditation app in both Android and Apple stores. The platform hosts over 3.5 million meditators across the world, and offers over 8,000 guided meditations from acclaimed international teachers.
As we race headlong into the future, a new wave of wearables is emerging to help us meditate and relax. Muse, for example, is an EEG headband that picks up on brain signals and turns them into sounds, gently bringing you back to the moment when you become distracted. With Thync Relax, you receive electromagnetic pulses that help combat stress and enable sleep, via a discrete device attached to the back of your neck.
Go on a Virtual Adventure
Virtual reality (VR) is another amazing “get-away” opportunity offered by technology today. Immersive, interactive and fully 3D, VR can transport us far away, giving an authentic glimpse of places and activities we would otherwise never experience. “What virtual reality vacations can do is offer us a brief escape from our increasingly hectic lifestyles, or attempt something we perhaps wouldn’t normally consider,” said Rapid VR co-founder Susannah DiLallo in an Intel blog post.
Summit Everest, surf enormous waves, kickback on the beach, or even sip a cocktail at a London bar — anything is possible, whether you have a cardboard headset attachment for your phone or a full VR kit.
Perhaps most exciting is the technology’s potential to transcend physical limitations, space and time. With VR, you can go back in time, or travel through space to distant planets. The TimeLooper app, for instance, brings to life historic events at key global sites across the globe, so you can see them both as they are right now, and also relive the moments that made them memorable. For some intergalactic travel, the NASA-backed Earthlight lets you take part in a space walk on the International Space Station or join a mission to the Moon. Titans of Space takes you on a tour of the solar system with just an Android device and attachable headset.
With so many enriching experiences available via our digital devices, the only question left to answer is: Where will you go first?
Of course, you must have a powerful home internet connection to enable this experience!