The holidays are behind us, the cool weather has settled in and a day off seems far away. Welcome to the winter blues, which is said to hit the hardest on the third Monday in January. It's called "Blue Monday," and it's often considered the most depressing day of the entire year.

When days like Blue Monday are gray, short and bleak, there is one sure way to beat them: book a trip. Studies show that just planning a vacation can boost your mood. In fact, one study in the Applied Research in Quality of Life found that the largest boost in travel-related happiness comes from the simple act of planning a vacation. Not only that, but the glow of booking the trip can keep you positive and inspired for as long as 8 weeks. Another study from the University of Pittsburgh's Mind-Body Center found that leisure time – including vacations – generated more positive emotions, fewer negative feelings and depression, and even made individuals more productive at work.

That makes now the perfect time to book a spring getaway, giving you 8 weeks of positive momentum that can get you through the winter season and safely into spring. Here are a 5 ways to dodge the winter blues as you explore spring travel:

  1. Head to the Water

Much has been written about the effects of water on the mind and body. It relaxes, transposes and calms. Look for a destination that has plenty of it! We're lucky in Myrtle Beach to have 60 miles of gorgeous ocean coastline, plus inland lakes, rivers and streams. You're never far from a body of water.

  1. Experience Nature

Getting into the great outdoors can reset your stress level immediately, not to mention the added benefit of adding a little exercise to the experience. Kayaking along backwater rivers, running on the beach, biking through a state park, or taking a stroll through historic gardens are just a few things you could plan for your trip.

  1. Seek True Relaxation and Rejuvenation

The term relaxing can be interpreted many different ways. For some, it's a visit to a spa or a yoga class, and for others, it's a quiet location with a great book or a waterfront meal with live music for ambience. Look for a destination that offers your version of relaxing, as well as for those you're traveling with.

  1. Refresh Relationships with a "Relation-Trip"

Not only is travel good for you, it's good for your relationships. Studies show travel can solidify families, friendships and marriages, bringing greater satisfaction and happiness. Look for a destination that is built with time spent together in mind, from accommodations that welcome larger groups to attractions built on entertaining multiple generations and interests.

  1. Take Advantage of Special Deals

All these de-stressing techniques are wonderful, but you don't want to blow them all stressing on how you'll afford it. Look for a destination that offers year-round affordability or seasonal deals. Where I live in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, we're offering special "Blue Monday" deals on accommodations and attractions, beginning tomorrow and extending to Jan. 31. Some deals include 40 percent off a stay of two nights or more at the gorgeous Marina Inn at Grande Dunes, or 41 percent off accommodations at Landmark Resort plus breakfast daily for two. To learn more go to