Spark joy: 5 instant happiness benefits from Virgin Red rewards

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Anna Brech
by Anna Brech
28 April 2021

Interest in wellness has boomed in recent years – but it’s more than just a passing fad. Beyond anything involving crystals, chia seeds or Kundalini yoga, wellness is really about putting yourself first. It’s doing the things that you know will be good for you, but also doing the things you’ll enjoy: because happiness forms part of a wider wellbeing that is scientifically linked to better life outcomes

The kind of happiness we’re talking about here doesn’t come in a 500ml bottle (if only), ready for you to squeeze liberally over your daily routine. But it *can* be built up through small steps and simple daily rituals; all of which help to build the most calm, contented version of you. 

Better still, Virgin Red – Virgin’s new rewards club – is full of ideas to help you along the way. From stress-reducing mindfulness courses to adventures based in nature, Virgin Red members can choose from a host of rewards designed to bring a little zest and lightness to the daily grind, using Virgin Points. 

Haven’t fulfilled your step count this week? Stop beating yourself up. Feeling good is a process, and it’s one approached best if you enjoy what you do. Here are five great ways to boost your wellness while having a ton of fun en-route – all via Virgin Red:

Rewards to reduce stress and calm the mind

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If you don’t already practise mindfulness, forget what you think you know. It’s not about drifting off, or forcing your mind to stop thinking. Rather, it’s to do with slowly creating a powerful awareness of the present moment. This simple act comes with huge mental health benefits, including reduced anxiety and emotional burnout, and increased quality of sleep.

An online meditation course (available via a Virgin Experience Days' Enjoy at Home voucher for 6,250 Virgin Points) will help you build a mindful coping kit for life. There are four modules with the New Skills Academy, which you can complete at any point in your own time. Tap into this happiness elixir of mindfulness, and learn how to better manage anything from pain to addiction or chronic stress. An iconic Saint Fragrance scented candle (6,250 points) may help lift your lessons, too. 

Rewards to help foster your closest relationships

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An 80-year study from Harvard university concluded that good relationships are the most important thing when it comes to how happy we feel in life. Spending time with people you truly love (not frenemies, or relatives who stress you out) can boost your physical and mental health, and even help you live longer

With Virgin Red, you can take your pick of rewards designed to max out quality time with “your” people: whether that’s with a West End show for two (from 44,000 points), a tree top challenge to share with a guest (10,250 points) or a three-course steakhouse meal with a pre-dinner tour of the viewing platform at the London Shard (15,000 points). 

Want to bond with a few more members of your crew? Choose from a paintballing day for four (7,750 points), a dome stay with huskies (42,500 points via Virgin Experience Days’ Chrome Collection) and lots more. Good times, they’re a-coming...

Rewards for spending time in the Great Outdoors 

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Your brain on nature is a happy beast indeed: National Geographic compares the impact of being outdoors for a while to a “cleaning of the mental windshield”, allowing overstressed minds to unwind and recalibrate. In fact, research shows that just five minutes in nature is enough to significantly lift your mood.

Virgin Red has a string of outdoor rewards ready and waiting to tune into this wilderness elixir. A Segway safari, for example (8,750 points via Virgin Experience Days’ Amber Collection) is your chance to blow out the cobwebs on a super-fun ride in stunning parkland. Brave types could also try zip-lining in Snowdonia National Park (17,500 points via Virgin Experience Days’ Scarlet Collection), or there’s Pembrokeshire sea-kayaking for two (21,500 points via the Azure Collection) – or even a vineyard tour in East Sussex (4,250 points via the Graphite Collection). The Great Outdoors with wine involved? We’re in. 

Rewards for therapeutic cooking (and eating)

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Anyone who’s channelled their inner Jamie Oliver over the past year of lockdowns will be on first-name terms with the soothing art of cooking. Doing the tea run with screaming kids is one thing; but when time and joy is on your side, whipping up some feel-good mascarpone pasta, or a batch of caramel blondies, can feel like a total delight. So much so, in fact, that some mental health clinics offer cooking classes as therapy.

To spark a little dopamine of your own, try an introductory cookery class with Masterchef star Ann Hood (17,500 points via a Virgin Experience Days' Scarlet Collection voucher) and learn how to create restaurant-standard dishes – from moreish gnocchi with sage butter to terrific tarte tatin. Since chocolate has an especially potent effect on happiness, you could also go full-whammy with a chocolate-making workshop for one (8,750 points via a Virgin Experience Days' Amber Collection voucher). Creamy ganache goodness awaits – for all the feel-good vibes you need.

Rewards for reviving adventure 

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Kids approach life with a natural sense of adventure but as adults, we lose the instinct. It’s all too easy to tend towards your comfort zone and stick with the same old (friends, jobs, experiences) rather than dipping your toe in waters new. It’s a shame because pushing that comfort zone is an excellent way of sharpening up your cognitive skills, meeting new people and boosting confidence levels. 

In fact, trying something new can transform your outlook on life, leaving you with a whole new sense of energy and verve. Hop right in with a helicopter buzz flight (9,500 points), a thrilling supercar blast in a Lamborghini (15,000 points) or return Virgin Atlantic reward flights to the Caribbean (starting from 20,000+ points*). Your appetite for life that’s been on leave for the past year and a half? It’ll come whooshing back with any one of these adventures. 

Check out more extraordinary experiences, from foodie forays to far-flung holidays, with Virgin Red’s rewards club.

* Taxes, fees and carrier imposed surcharges apply to all Virgin Red reward flights. Points based on off-peak rates.