Guest blog by Diane Harrison
When the pressures of daily life become overwhelming, sometimes an appropriate solution can be to distance ourselves from negative stimuli and immerse ourselves in another culture entirely. City breaks offer more than just a distraction, they’re an opportunity to refresh our senses, rediscover perspective and reignite our life’s deepest passions – you just need to know where to look.
Copenhagen, Denmark Copenhagen has developed a reputation as the happiest city on earth in recent years and may just be the optimal destination for anyone struggling with (externally-influenced) mental health issues. With its explosively colorful architecture, cognisant attitudes towards work/life balance, and a thriving cycling culture (over 50% of residents ride to work), there are few better places to distance yourself from your doldrums. Time a visit for winter and learn the true meaning of the Danish word “hygge” – to be cozy, enjoy food with friends, and live your most joyous life.
Bologna, Italy Set against the roving fields of northern Italy, Bologna is both a historic landmark and a gastronomist’s dream. Delight your tastebuds with homemade tagliatelle al ragù, fresh-off-the-farm prosciutto, and a glass of locally sourced red wine. Evenings are a great opportunity to wander the city’s lamplit cobblestone streets and explore the trove of mementos left over from the Romans and the Middle Ages. It’s easy to forget your troubles when you’re traveling back through time as well as over distance.
San José, Costa Rica With sugar sand beaches, vibrant national parks, and more tamales than you can shake a maraca at, Costa Rica is amongst the world’s most popular vacation spots and there’s no better gateway to the country than its bustling capital city. San José is spilling over with markets, museums, waterfalls, and mouth-watering food options like Casado (a local rice dish) and Sopa Negra (a black bean broth). If you find yourself out on a limb, try a hike up to the La Chimba Coffee Farm – after a few drinks, you’ll want to run your way back down.
Seattle, Washington Washington state’s ‘emerald city’, Seattle, is consistently ranked amongst the top 10 best places to live in America and for good reason – it hosts a thriving economy, world-class educational sector, and a truly diverse, open-minded populace. Most importantly for those looking to refresh and rejuvenate, the city is surrounded by lush coniferous forests and overlooks a serene cold water bay. Whilst here, you may even catch yourself considering an investment in a vacation home. Just remember that, in the USA, vacation homes require a substantial down payment of 20% or more. To afford that, you may need to take out a second mortgage on your existing home or use a home equity loan!
Istanbul, Turkey At the juncture between Europe and Asia sits Turkey’s crown jewel. Istanbul is a cultural, economic hub and a revelation for self-care seekers, making it the perfect spot for a long layover or weekend trip. Take the opportunity, whilst here, to enjoy some world-class physical therapy – massage parlors, spas, and beauty salons are of the highest quality, widely available, and affordable. For many of us, traveling (especially abroad) can be daunting but our experiences whilst on the move often have a profoundly positive, long-term impact on our emotional wellbeing. If you’re ever in doubt, just remember the hard part is putting your first foot forward.
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Article by Diane Harrison (guest blogger)