Why Getting Away From Home Feels So Good

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If there’s no place like home, what makes getting away feel so good? And what to do if a vacation isn’t in the cards.

Home is a refuge. Our safe place at the end of a long day. It’s the biggest investment most of us make in our lifetimes and the one that brings us the most joy. So, why are we so excited to get away? I’m talking about vacation. If there’s no place like home, what makes getting away feel so good? And more importantly, how can we replicate it if a vacation isn’t in the cards.

Novelty

While it may never be scientifically possible to prove what causes one to be happy, research has been conducted to try. Scientists have found that those who were exposed to something novel–be it a new route home from work, a different recipe for dinner, or listening to the most recently released hit song–had a feeling of greater happiness than those who stuck to the routine. This explains why experiencing a new place on vacation gives us such great joy.

Stay-cation idea: Find ways to bring novelty into your home. You may discover that rearranging your furniture uncovers a perfect sunny reading spot that you never noticed before. You may find that swapping out your bedding for some fresh threads helps you sleep better. Go ahead, try something new.

Anticipation

Ironically, our brains are wired to enjoy something more if we have to wait for it. The build-up and anticipation generated by planning a vacation actually brings us greater joy than the trip itself. A study published in a journal titled Applied Research in Quality of Life found that vacationers are actually most happy before their trips even began.

Stay-cation idea: Try tackling home projects you’ve been putting off. The level of satisfaction after they’re completed will be even more increased because you’ve been waiting to finish them. Hang the frames for that gallery wall you’ve been planning, so you’ll be motivated to actually find the photos to fill them. Add curtains to your bedroom windows like you’ve been saying you’ll do for months.

And plan fun events at home well in advance – make a dinner party a true event by planning the menu, coordinating decor and giving guests plenty of notice.  The anticipation will make the satisfaction even that much sweeter.

The Joy of Coming Home

The saying “you never know what you have until it’s gone” applies here. It’s not until we’re away from home that we truly begin to appreciate what home really means. We take having a closet of clothes and a comfortable pillow for granted. We forget how hard it is to eat healthy and cheaply when we don’t have a kitchen.

There comes a point in most vacations where we all start to get a little homesick. No matter how much novelty contributes to happiness, we are all creatures of habit. And at the end of the day, sometimes we want to get away just to experience the joy of coming home again.

Stay-cation: Make yourself a list of the 10 things you love most about your home. For me, it’s the backyard, the way the light shines through our bedroom windows on a sunny morning, and seeing the smiling faces of my family members every evening as I head upstairs to bed. Sometimes all it takes is a little reminder of how sweet life at home really is.