Life hacks for a stress-free and sustainable vacation


In the Nordic countries, a long summer vacation is traditionally seen as necessary and very appreciated. Compared to many of our neighbours across the world, we have a very long vacation during summer. In line with Sustainable Development Goal 3.4 we aim to promote mental health and well-being by taking preventive actions. But how sustainable are our vacations?

Anna Katarina Elofsson, a PhD student at the Department of Space, Earth and Environment at Chalmers University of Technology, is doing her research about sustainable consumption. She argues that the tradition of a long summer leave historically could come from Swedish employers reckoning that longer rest and recovery for employees is more valuable.

On the continent, there is a tradition of going on weekend trips, that is, a shorter vacation, for example to sun-friendly resorts or exciting big cities. In Sweden, however, we have traditionally preferred a longer stay in our “summer houses”; a vacation cabin primarily intended for summer holidays, preferably in rural and natural surroundings. These differences have also brought different ways of implementing the journey itself.

“For example, a long journey to Thailand gives more emissions per trip, of course, but fewer people go on those trips. It’s the many shorter flights that together lead to increased climate impact from flying. And it seems like the weekend holiday is becoming more common even among Swedes on holiday”, says Anna.

“During July I can never reach my Nordic colleagues. It’s great!”

The director of SDSN Global, Jeffrey D. Sachs, often talks about how he cannot reach his Nordic colleagues during the summer holidays. And he thinks it is great. During one evening talk at The Think 20 Summit in Berlin: GLOBAL SOLUTIONS in Berlin 29-30 May, Sachs talked about the differences in European and American traditions regarding vacation. Sachs stressed the importance of finding a sustainable work balance connected to the major focus on efficiency in our society today.

So, as a Nordic citizen, if you want to spend your vacation, traditionally in a summer house on the country side, or prefer going on weekend trips, we would like to promote sustainable travel and give you some tips on how to relax.

4 tips for a stress-free vacation

Aleksander Perski is a psychologist and stress researcher at the Stress Research Institute, a Swedish national knowledge center focusing on stress reactions, sleep and health. Below you can see his tips on making the most of your vacation.

  1. Sleep as much as you like.
  2. Do the opposite of what you usually do. Are you active at work? Take a passive vacation. Do you have a passive at work? For example, sitting a lot? Then move a lot on your vacation.
  3. Do not plan too much. Too much planning can also create stress.
  4. Create communication-free zones. Turn off email and mobile and take a proper break from work.

We at the SDSN Northern Europe Secretariat wish you a lovely, relaxing, vacation.

See you in August!

Read scientists tips for a stress-free vacation (only in Swedish) >>

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