Vacation as therapy

Vacation as therapy (focusstock, Getty Images)

Other times, such as when a divorce, death or other trauma has left you emotionally spent, the best healing may occur at a serene place where you give yourself the time and permission to reflect, Markman said.

Sites such as the Chopra Center for Wellbeing in Carlsbad, Calif., co-founded in 1996 by mind-body guru Deepak Chopra, offer programs on emotional freedom and work-life balance as well as Eastern healing methods such as rebalancing ayurveda and detoxifying Panchakarma. A host of other wellness programs, many of them luxurious retreats in spectacular locations, are listed at healinghotelsoftheworld.com.

Days after Ryan Sheridan lost a close uncle to a three-month battle with cancer, he was heartened to find himself on a yoga and cooking retreat in Vermont with Pravassa Wellness Travel (pravassa.com). The "omnipresent crushing sense of sorrow and mourning" lifted as he practiced yoga, helped prepare gourmet meals, took walks in the countryside and shared a laugh with other travelers over wine.

The time to himself, without regular responsibilities, helped him process his grief so he could "come back to the daily grind with a little more balance," said Sheridan, 39, who works for the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York.

Such inward-looking trips, when "the biggest decision you have to make is do you have a drink at the pool or at the bar," offer relief especially from stress stemming from the hustle and bustle of daily life, Markman said.

It also doesn't need to be a solo venture.

To escape from the frenzied pace of New York City, public relations executive Sarah Evans last fall traveled with her husband and 2-year-old daughter to Argentina and Uruguay. They spent the bulk of their trip at the Four Seasons resort in Carmelo, amid rolling vineyards along the shores of Uruguay's Rio de la Plata, where they did little but enjoy each other's company.

"It was a moment of connection without distraction," Evans said. "I felt so at peace being in this magical place with my two favorite people in the world and experiencing days without having to plan."

The prescriptions

Karen Schaler, who recommends destinations for different emotional needs at traveltherapytrips.com, offered vacation ideas for some of life's tough moments. Note: Some people de-stress best at a spa, and others while ziplining, so know your personality.

Heartbreak: Challenge yourself with a new adventure, like kayaking with whales in New Brunswick or Newfoundland, Canada, for a confidence boost to help you let go of your past.

Death of a loved one: A spa vacation, at such places as Canyon Ranch or Miraval in Tucson, Ariz., can help heal your heart by taking care of you and empowering you for the future.

Job loss: Go hiking in local parks or wilderness areas to help you clear your mind and tackle whatever is ahead.

Burnout: Go sailing in the British Virgin Islands to refuel your mind, body and soul, relaxing at top resorts such as Peter Island Resort and Spa or Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina.

aelejalderuiz@tribune.com