Fondazione Zoé

Holidays and journeys are restorative and therapeutic, but against what “illness”?

There is an increasing tendency to combine holidays with therapy: health centres, spas, but also agritourism which offers peace and tranquillity and maybe even hay therapy, mud treatments…a plethora of breaks which we justify through their benefits to our well-being and respite. In reality, this widespread fashion is the result of a concept of well-being which has already been considered “common sense” for a couple of decades.

Data shows that during a recession or economic difficulties, people don’t give up their holidays: they might be shortened or be last minute deals, but they aren’t given up. Interviews show that “we can’t do without” holidays, because they are necessary, because we need them, because without them our mental equilibrium would break down… As you see, it is not a demand for our rights, nor is it primarily a need for rest. It means more than this. Holidays and journeys are restorative and therapeutic, but against what “illness”?  This illness seems to be, again according to the thoughts of interviewees, the alienation of daily life with its chains of routines and duties, where we are not “free to be ourselves”. The holiday is seen as a free and open space, where we learn new sides of ourselves, where we experiment with emotions and sensations which are suppressed in our daily life of work and duty. So, we seek moments of “vacation” scattered throughout our day (e.g. happy hour). The weekend becomes a central part of our lives, with spaces to breathe, of relief, of play and of new possibilities.

So, I ask myself, is it possible that the everyday, which takes up 90% of our waking lives, can be lived through as though it were oppression? It seems like it has become an “illness from living” against which we construct the ideal of well-being holidays, in search of “stimulating and marvellous experiences”…. But wouldn’t it be healthier to try to live a satisfying daily life, at work and in the family?
 

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