Is It Time for a Vacation?

Can you relate to one or more of the following statements? Your quality of work is lacking. You aren’t meeting deadlines well. Your temper is flaring. You’re sleeping too much. You are daydreaming more and more about getting away from everything. If so, there is a good chance that you need a vacation.

Studies reveal that Americans put in more hours at work than any other nation. We average nine more weeks of labor per year than our working counterparts in Western Europe, who get at least 20 paid days of vacation each year as compared to the average American vacation of 2 weeks.

All this time spent at work causes stress to build up in the body. Chronic stress takes its toll on our body’s ability to resist infection, maintain vital functions, and even the ability to avoid injury.

When you’re stressed out and tired, you are more likely to become ill, your arteries take a beating, and you’re more likely to have an accident. Your sleep will suffer, you won’t digest your food as well, and even the genetic material in the cells of your body may start to become altered in a bad way.

Mentally, not only do you become more irritable, depressed, and anxious, but your memory will become worse and you’ll make poorer decisions. You’ll also be less fun to be with, causing you to become more isolated, lonely, and depressed. Even people who claim to love the high-pressured lifestyle will admit that there are times when they just want to get away from it all, if only for a short time.

Hence the vacation! Vacations provide a break from everyday stressors. They allow us time away from work or home and help us release built-up tension.

We emerge from a successful vacation feeling ready to take on the world again. We gain perspective on our problems, get to relax with our families and friends, and get a break from our usual routines. That is if the vacation is “successful.”

So, how do we make sure that the vacation is a success? Here are some tips that are sure to relax even the most stressed vacationer.

∫ Turn off the devices! Really! Turn off the phone, I-pad, computer, and all other electronics. It may seem impossible at first, but give it a try. Constantly checking these things causes additional stress

∫ Plan to do nothing. If you over-schedule your vacation it will turn into work, which will result in more stress. Instead, take your vacation with no planned agenda. Just be away.

∫ Get enough sleep. Do you ever notice how exhausted people are when they get home from vacation? Maybe it’s because they stayed up late and woke up early in a frantic attempt to get it all in. I’m not suggesting you sleep your vacation away, but if a solid eight hours or an afternoon nap means scratching a few items of your list of things to do, it might be a sacrifice to consider. Being well rested is crucial to really relaxing

∫ Pamper yourself. Self-indulgence is relaxing. It’s especially relaxing if your primary role in your real life is to take care of other people (i.e. moms, dads, husbands, wives, managers, and practically any responsible adult).

∫ Take time to breathe. It sounds simple, but being in the moment and just breathing can result in the most relaxing time spent on vacation.

∫ Do what you enjoy. The stuff that refreshes you and gives you new energy while at the same time releases your tension is best. Perhaps it’s working on your book, playing with your children, fishing, playing the guitar, hiking or working on your old car. Enjoy it all without a planned agenda.

∫ Eat long, leisurely meals. Instead of slamming down three meals every day, make them last. Take a newspaper to breakfast and nurse a good cup of coffee. Over dinner, take the time to taste what’s on your plate — and the conversation you’re having with your family and/or table mates. Sit for so long that dessert comes a full hour after your dinner.

It may be time — so enjoy!

Carrie White spent more than 25 years in the fitness industry as a consultant, club owner, fitness trainer and attorney. She is now a professor, yoga instructor and the director of the LaunchLab at West Virginia University.

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