Vacations can be exhausting. Research shows that about 40 per cent of us will come back from our vacations feeling no better, or even worse, than before we left.
This is because many of us aren't vacationing properly. We are making common mistakes that compromise our ability to recharge. Instead of disconnecting, relaxing and enjoying ourselves, we are heading into situations that leave us stressed, tired and unsatisfied.
But it doesn't have to be that way. You can reap the full benefits of your time off this summer by implementing these vacation strategies.
Plan things out, but not too much
Vacations can be stressful. Traffic jams, missed flights and trying to organize excursions from your hotel room can compromise your peace and tranquility. Avoid these stresses by anticipating them and planning out as much of your vacation as warranted.
Scheduling flights outside of rush hour and booking your parasailing adventure before you leave home are sure ways to keep vacation stress to a minimum. That being said, don't overdo planning. You don't want your vacation to be a regimented exercise in military precision. In fact, letting yourself "float" on vacation might be particularly helpful in recharging your batteries.
Turn off the electronics
We can't properly enjoy vacations when we're constantly checking our phones to see what's going on back in our normal lives. To recuperate on vacation, it's not enough to physically get away from our daily obligations: we need to mentally get away from them. So, put away the devices.
However, if you're someone who gets anxious about the mountain of emails that will be waiting for you when you get back to work, you will have trouble chilling out. So, engage in email triage. Once every three or four days: check your email and delete anything you can dispense with immediately; reply quickly to anything that can be addressed with a simple, token response; mark as unread anything that needs some thought and should be tackled when you get back.
Instead of making your trip last as long as possible, focus on quality
This cuts the huge mountain of emails down to a small pile, which will put your mind at ease.
Come home a little early
We often make the mistake of thinking the most effective vacations are the longest ones. Because of this, we tend to come back from our trips on Sunday night. However, the best vacations are actually the ones that make us feel most refreshed and revitalized.
When we return from vacation on Sunday night, we find ourselves in a mad scramble as we quickly unpack, check phone messages, buy groceries, water our plants, do laundry and other activities while trying to get back into the swing of things. This creates stress and can undo all of the benefits we hopefully gained by taking some time off.
Instead of making your trip last as long as possible, focus on quality, and return home early enough to leisurely get back to your normal routine.
Get out of your routine
Not everyone has the disposable funds for travel vacations. But that's fine. Staycations can be as effective as exotic getaways if done right. The main mistake people make during vacations at home is that they stay in their normal routine. They cook, clean and watch TV. In short, they don't "vacate" their normal lives.
If you stay at home on your vacation, shake things up. Visit local tourist attractions. Eat different foods. Take day trips to neighbouring communities. Getting out of your normal routine can make a staycation feel as novel and recuperative as any excursion to a foreign land.
Get enough sleep
It is commonly known that getting an inadequate amount of sleep is bad for us. But most of us aren't aware of how dire the consequences are.
People who don't sleep enough end up dying earlier than those who get the recommended minimum of seven hours per night. But recent research shows that if people make up for inadequate sleep by catching some extra z's on the weekend, their mortality risk is eliminated. Do the same thing on vacation.
During your time off, make up for the inadequate sleep you normally get by staying in bed for as long as you need to feel refreshed. This doesn't mean you shouldn't enjoy a few late nights partying it up, if that floats your boat. Just make sure that the next day you sleep in or take a nap to ensure that you are well rested when you get back from holidays.
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Be a little selfish
Research shows that people who are satisfied with their vacations have the biggest reductions in burnout. To reap the full benefits of a vacation, you need to enjoy yourself. Don't make the mistake of thinking that just being away from your obligations will refresh you. Take time for yourself and participate in activities you find pleasurable and satisfying. This is your vacation.
Avoiding common holiday mistakes can turn ineffective downtime into useful "uptime" that allows us to fully recover from our busy lives. As you are lounging on a beach this summer, exploring new places while on a road trip, or enjoying a relaxing staycation, don't feel guilty about not working.
Recharging your batteries on vacation will make you more effective at your tasks when you return to your daily obligations. If you vacation right, you will not only be at your best and live longer, but you also won't need a vacation from your vacation.
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