A Disney vacation, that will cost you a fortune and make amazing memories that last a lifetime, can be extremely stressful. Kids walk slow. Adults get irritable. Surely that’s not rain? Favorite rides break down. Plans have to be altered. Meals have to be delayed. Children get over stimulated, throw screaming tantrums in crowded gift shops while strangers stare at you. Lovers fight, parents fuss, and teens complain.
You have huge expectations regarding how your expensive and long-planned vacation should play out, and when things go wrong, people start to stress out. Just worrying about how much money you are spending is enough to turn up your stress level to high.
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I ran across the above photo on Pinterest that simply shared 10 ways to Stress Less, and I’ll expand upon those ideas a bit, because they can add greatly to your life, but more specifically, your next Disney vacation.
1. Dance It Out
Think of Snow White Dancing with the Dwarves. Athletes are long famous for touting the benefits of walking, running, and just getting your body moving for good health and stress relief. The Magic Kingdom has a stage in Tomorrowland, called Club 626, where the likes of Pluto, Goofy, and Stitch dance into the night to modern music infused with familiar Disney songs.
Adults, teens and kids can all blow off some steam dancing the night away, rather than standing in yet another roller coaster line. It’s hard to think about how much lunch just cost when you are in a public dance-off with your family or friends. Shake your booty, wave your hands in the air, and feel the stress melt away, at least until you walk over to get in line at Space Mountain.
2. Go For A Walk
Every day you spend at Disney, you will be walking a lot. Exercise is a fantastic stress reliever that can work within minutes. Setting off for a walk allows you to enjoy a change in scenery, which can take you into a totally different frame of mind, like from angry and stressed to calm and relaxed.
The resorts at Disney are just fantastic. There is a tremendous difference in your stress level walking down a packed out Main Street and taking a casual stroll through the landscaped and carefully manicured grounds of your resort. Now your level of resort beauty directly corresponds with the amount of money you paid for your accommodations, but this doesn’t mean you can’t take a deep breath and a free walk around the Deluxe Resorts for top of the line walking relaxation. If you haven’t seen the prices for the Deluxe Resorts, perhaps put off pricing them until you get home and can mope on your couch.
3. Talk About It
You just stood in line for 30 minutes to pick up Disney burgers and fries, which cost more than your last doctor visit, so now that you are seated, take a deep breath. Maybe take one more, especially if the restaurant is noisy with vacation chatter. Start a conversation with your traveling companions. Talk about your expectations for the day. Tell a joke. Say the calming words, “I love you.” Even if you don’t exactly mean it at that exact moment, with the stress and all, you just might after you hear yourself say it.
Standing in line for hours a day can actually be a fabulous place to talk to your kids about life, their life at school, and perhaps what stresses them. Many a future vacation to Disney has been planned right in a roller coaster line.
Yoga practitioners know the power of a cleansing breath. About.com offered some specific instructions for those not presently occupying a yoga mat at class. “Take a deep, cleansing breath, expanding your belly and keeping your shoulders relaxed, and hold it in for the count of six. Exhale, and repeat twice more. Then breathe normally, and focus your attention on your breathing. As you breathe, inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth, still expanding your belly rather than moving your shoulders up and down.”
Take a deep breath, count to three, and then speak. Chances are, that cleansing breath combined with some time to think clearly can help you avoid making stressful situations even worse by saying words you can not erase in the future.
This type of breathing will come in handy when you receive your Visa bill post-vacation, and I am usually forced to adopt yoga breathing when I research table service meal prices for a family of five, none of which qualify for kid’s meals anymore.
5. Go to Bed Earlier
This can be a tough one on vacation, especially in the summer time at Disney, because it’s not 105 degrees at night in Orlando; it’s actually a very pleasant 70 degrees. You have paid an arm and a Mickey Mouse leg to get there, so it’s difficult not to push yourself over the limit to get your money’s worth. How about just try to get adequate amounts of sleep on vacation. Throw in a nap, even if you have to sneak it in during a show or dark ride.
Lack of sleep can negatively impact your ability to handle stress, be productive, and function properly as you walk down Main Street, U.S.A. If you plan to be at the parks first thing in the morning, plan to get a good nights sleep.
6. Focus on What You Can Control
You have control over your body, just your singular person, and that’s really it. You can’t control the weather, your traveling companions, Cast Members, your child’s behavior, wait times, ride break-downs, etc. When things go wrong, as they will on vacation, take that deep breath and remember, you can only have control over yourself. Grin and bear it, because good times are just around the corner in the Happiest Place on Earth.
You can’t control how long the line is for ice cream, but you can make sure you buy at least one bowl on your trip. At $4.99, this is a stress-less snack choice.
7. Reminisce About Good Times
Standing in that long line, ask your husband if he remembers the last time you stood there in the rain when it was 40 degrees. Ask your child if he or she remembers the last time they stood in the same spot, but holding the beloved Mickey Mouse doll (because they are too old for it now) they purposely left at home for this trip. Ask your wife if she remembers dropping that ice cream cone in her lap on the bench across from the Peter Pan ride. At dinner, talk about your last trip and how much fun you had being together.
Conversations don’t even have to be about Disney; pick a good time you remember and talk about it. Don’t argue, nag or provoke fights, because these just bring on heaps of stress. Especially when vacation money is tight, just talk about good times.
8. Ask For a Hug
Think back to all the movies where a Disney Princess is hugging someone. The simple act of hugging can reduce your blood pressure and heart rate, which are classic signs of stress. Your husband is not thrilled he’s back at Disney again? Hug him, and thank him for bringing you back again. Child struggling to maintain composure among the Disney crowds and varied environment from home? Hug that child and say some soothing words of comfort. Kids stressing your wife? Hug her, and then hug those naughty kids!
A website called Natural Health and Energy reported research from Tiffany Field, of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami Medical School, on how touch lowers the output of cortisol, a stress hormone. When cortisol dips, there’s a surge of two “feel good” brain chemicals, serotonin and dopamine, which as Ms. Fields indicated, all make you feel less stressed out.
By hugging someone, you’ll make your traveling companions feel better, and de-stress yourself at the same time. Go on, give ’em a hug!
9. Look For Opportunities in Life’s Challenges
You can look for hidden Mickeys in a long line. Hug your sullen teen, who is normally locked in their room, on the overcrowded monorail. Have a nice meal or a snack if a random thunder-storm pops up. Theme parks are packed out? Head over to Disney Springs for some fantastic shopping, or tour some of the resorts for a break from the overwhelming and stressful park crowds.
If you go to Disney World at Christmas, you will experience more stress than usual, so you had better be prepared to deal with it when you get there.
One thing I love about Disney over all other theme parks I have visited is that the vast majority of their staff seems to smile. Many of them smile a lot more frequently than me, and I’m pretty darn happy to be there. Smiles disarm and relax people. Smiles raise your mood and make the people around you feel happy.
About.com says that sometimes, when it comes to smiling, you may have to just fake it. Just as studies show the positive effects of smiling occur whether the smile is fake or real, faked laughter also provides those same benefits. The body can’t distinguish between “fake” laughter that you just start doing on purpose, and “real” laughter that comes from true humor. It seems the physical benefits are exactly the same, and the former quite often leads to the latter anyway.
So smile more and possibly even fake some laughter when needed. This way, you will still achieve positive effects, and the pretend happiness and laughter may lead to real smiles and true fun on travel days that stress you out.
Vacations can be loads of fun while you create magical memories with friends and family. But we all set out for Orlando with preconceived notions about how our vacations should go, about how much value we are getting for our money, about how those traveling with us should act.
Use these ten ways to take the stress out of your next vacation, and hopefully you’ll find yourself taking a deep breath and planning that next vacation. remember, our Princess Travel Experts with Destinations in Florida would be glad to take the stress out of your trip planning.
Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you doing some deep breathing while waiting in line for Space Mountain…
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Amanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.
Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast.
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