How To Make an At-Home Vacation Feel *Way* More Relaxing, According to 3 Experts

It's the age-old staycation conundrum: While you're planning it, you're pumped about your genius plan to save money by staying at home. Once you're on it, you realize it's not quite as relaxing as the real deal.

Though you might not actually be lounging on a sunny Florida beach or exploring the streets of Austin, you can feel like you are (even if you're really sitting on your couch) by using this one expert-approved trick for tapping into that vacay-level chill: breathing.

If your first thought was, "Breathing? No way," hear us out. At at our first-ever Wellness Daycation, presented by the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Cards, Nike trainer and Fhitting Room instructor Tara Nicolas, dietitian McKel Kooienga, RDN, and yoga teacher Jess Blackmun shared tips for creating the ultimate relaxing vacation in your own home—and breathwork was the common denominator in every activity.

They shared insight on how breathwork can seriously help with bringing laid-back wellness travel vibes with you wherever you go, whether that's to your kitchen to whip up a special snack or to the yoga mat in your living room for a quick flow.

Nicolas' top piece of advice? Make sure you're allowing breathwork and self care to feel playful and fun (vacations are supposed to be fun, after all!). To make it happen, follow her and the other wellness industry experts' tips on how to use a breathwork practice to help you actually relax—so you can score that wellness vacation feeling no matter where you are.

Keep reading for 3 tips on how a breathwork practice can help mentally transport you to a relaxing destination.

1. Find your happy place

The name makes it sound fancy, but you don't actually need to know any special techniques to start a breathwork practice. It just takes a few deep breaths and some imagination. "You can get a lot more out of a self-care practice by just imagining where you want to be in that moment, and then transporting yourself using your breath," Blackmun said as she led Wellness Daycation attendees through a simple, do-anywhere breathing exercise.

"I like to imagine that the sounds of my inhales and exhales are the sounds of distant waves crashing on the beach," Blackmun said. Try it while you're sitting on your couch or doing your skin-care routine, and you'll have definitive proof you don't need an IRL beach to tap into that vacay mindset.

2. Channel vacation vibes

While Austin's food trucks or Florida's fresh fruit might be out of reach, that doesn't mean you can't recreate a favorite food from a past trip or get inspired by your dream destination. No matter what you channel for cuisine inspo, Nutrition Stripped founder Kooienga says pausing to take a deep breath before your first bite can make all the difference in making your meal feel like a vacation dining experience.

"Deep breathing before a meal really helps activate your parasympathetic nervous system, or that rest-and-digest part of you," Kooienga said. During the pause, she suggests using all your senses to really experience the meal instead of just rushing through it.

And of course, Kooienga gave attendees a recipe to try it out with, which was inspired by her stay at the Austin Proper Hotel, a Marriott Bonvoy property. Simply blend the following ingredients together for a delicious smoothie:

2-3 cups raw spinach
1 cup frozen banana
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup ice
1 Tbsp almond butter
1 date, pitted
1 scoop plant-based protein powder (optional)

Pro tip: If you don't have a banana (or don't like them), sub in some white beans instead—yes, really. According to Kooienga, you won't be able to taste them and they'll provide a nice boost of protein. Just add in some additional sweetness like a splash of vanilla extract or an extra scoop of nut butter for that flavor punch. Suddenly, you're basically a world-class chef.

3. Do it for the experience

You'd never opt out of a vacation altogether because you weren't sure if you were packing your suitcase correctly, right? According to Nicolas, opting out of starting a breathwork practice because you're nervous you're not doing it right is similarly silly. Her advice is to instead forget all the sometimes-intimidating-sounding terminology and just focus on enjoying it—like you would with a vacation.

"We hear a lot of these buzzwords like, 'I have to get present' or 'I have to clear my mind' or 'I have to manifest,'" Nicolas said. While these phrases can help get you in an intentional mindset, they can also enforce the idea that there's a "right way to meditate," which there's not, she says.

"Any time I ask you to move your breath in different directions, there's nothing that you can mess up," Nicolas said as she led a face mask plus meditation class. "Just allow yourself to observe it." Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and imagine yourself on the amazing vacation of your dreams. Ahh.

Another way to stay calm and score those vacay vibes? By applying and getting approved for a Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, which earns you 3x Marriott Bonvoy points at U.S. restaurants and 2x points on all other eligible purchases. Plus, from now until January 13, 2021, you can earn 100,000 bonus points after you make $5,000 in eligible purchases on your Card within the first three months of Card Membership and earn an additional 25,000 bonus points after your first anniversary of Card Membership. You'll also get Platinum Elite status with your Card for a year beginning February 2021, an upgrade from Gold Elite status. Terms and conditions apply.

Top photo: Getty Images/LeoPatrizi

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