As the summer holidays get under way, you might be looking forward to your first trip abroad since Covid, or a relaxing break at home.
Dr Paul Martin is a Dundee-based doctor. He helps patients understand their health care needs and maintain their independence after illness or surgery.
Dr Martin is also an expert when it comes to looking after your health and wellbeing.
Here, he shares his expertise and five top tips for ensuring a restful, restorative and healthy summer holiday.
1. Focus on your physical health
Are you on a crash diet to achieve that summer body? If so, you may wish to reconsider.
Crash dieting usually results in a significant drop in water weight and your body should always be properly hydrated.
Being hydrated is important if you’re flying anywhere, to reduce the risk of blood clots.
It’s also important if you’re in a warm climate and planning a cocktail or two; you’re more likely to sweat in hot weather, which can dehydrate you further.
If you want to feel better about your body, the single best thing you can do is avoid yoyo dieting and instead make small, positive changes that you can maintain over time.
2. Don’t forget about your mental health and wellbeing
Prioritising your mental health during your break is essential.
Simple things like making plans with loved ones, or taking a break from technology and social media can be a great way to reset.
Although many people will go abroad for their summer holiday – especially after two years of Covid disruption – it might not be the best option for everyone.
If staying local helps you rest, relax and replenish, you shouldn’t feel pressured to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ and book an unnecessary overseas holiday.
Mental health is just as important as physical health, so if staying local is what gives you that restoration, put the passport back into the sock drawer and consider becoming a tourist in your own town.
3. Slip, slop, slap
Don’t forget to slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat.
Our skin is the largest organ in our body and plays many important roles, including maintaining our body temperature and helping us absorb vitamin D – which aides our immune system.
Remember also that while clouds can decrease visible light (UV-A), they don’t always block ultraviolet radiation (UV-B), which means you can get sunburned when you least expect it.
So, get the sunscreen out and check the expiry date. It’s best to go for SPF 50+ and reapply every two hours.
My Australian wife also reminds me to regularly check your skin and, regardless of your skin tone, consult a dermatologist or mole map clinic if you spot any changes.
4. Remember to be Covid safe
Check your vaccination status before your head abroad.
Covid restrictions remain in many countries around the world, and you may be surprised about some requirements during transit and at your destination.
You can use the walk-in Covid vaccination clinics to boost your immunity, if eligible.
Make sure to check if you need any other vaccinations before travelling to more exotic locations.
You can consult the UK Gov Travel website and/or a travel clinic to help you prepare for your big adventure.
5. Extra summer holiday measures
Don’t forget about those extra measures that can help ensure a restful, restorative and healthy summer holiday.
At a minimum, ensure you take paracetamol, ibuprofen, bandages, alcohol gel, pure aloe vera and, importantly, electrolytes sachets.
If you forgot to pack your electrolytes, bananas, coconut water, avocado, almonds, and watermelon are perfect substitutes.
Where you’re on existing medication, be sure to pack a letter from your doctor confirming your prescription medication.
If your medication is ordinarily refrigerated, pack it in airline approved cooler bags and ensure you have a small fridge in your hotel room.
Don’t forget about health insurance if you’re travelling aboard. If you’re in Europe, you can apply for the UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which allows you to access state healthcare in Europe at a reduced rate – or sometimes for free.
Holidays are an important time to re-establish balance and health; physically, mentally and emotionally.
Whatever summer holiday option you go for, make sure you carve out sufficient time to refresh, reflect and refocus in the way that is right for you… And remember the five top tips above!