How to Have a Restful Vacation
Taking It Easy: Relaxing Vacations
Did you know that in 2011, employees left over $34 billion worth of vacation time on the table? Increased workloads due to improving technology and stress over the potential of losing a job and not being able to find another one may keep you at the office, too. It seems, too, like it's becoming harder and harder to get away from work--we get email on our Blackberries or iPhones, bosses feel entitled to text at all hours, and work from home capabilities make it all to easy to put in a few extra hours when you should be focusing on yourself. All of these things mean that making the most of your vacation days is critical to happiness. It's important for your mental and physical well-being that you get some downtime. Here's how to have a restful vacation even in a few short days.
Having a Restful Vacation at Home
Often, we feel like we should be using our vacations to fly somewhere exotic--a beach, a mountainside, a castle in Europe. But vacations like that are just as exhausting as a long work-week; between the flight, the jet lag, and all the sightseeing, you very well may return home more tired than when you left. Sometimes, for a truly relaxing experience, it's best just to stay at home--the staycation.
What are the benefits of having a restful vacation at home? First, it's free. Second, you'll get the best sleep in your own bed, without the pressure of bringing back a portfolio full of pictures to impress friends, family, and coworkers. Finally, you'll get a chance to reconnect with any loved ones or friends you might have been neglected.
Here are some tips for a relaxing vacation at home:
- Clean everything and tidy up in the few days leading up to your vacation. That way, you won't be tempted to spend your days off scrubbing the grout in the shower.
- Run all of your errands and go grocery shopping before your vacation begins; that way you can spend your time doing only things you truly enjoy.
- Don't overschedule social events. Friends and family who learn you will be at home may jump at the chance to see you--so don't tell everyone. If you pack your days, you won't truly get to rest.
- Plan out a few hobbies or activities you've been meaning to do but haven't let yourself engage in--reading a book, scrapbooking, movies, a nature hike, etc.
Remember how great summers were when you were a kid? All that free time with no responsibility? Recreate that feeling with a few free vacation days at home, and you'll be rested and rejuvenated in no time.
Having a Restful Destination Vacation
For some, the idea of staying home on a vacation day might be anathema--you want to travel and see the corners of the globe. That can be restful, as well! Most vacation destinations, especially beach and mountain resorts, offer a host of relaxing amenities. By taking it easy and not overscheduling your sightseeing, you can have a restful vacation even if you travel abroad.
Here's how to enjoy a relaxing destination vacation:
- Don't schedule activities from sun-up to sun-down. Spread your plans out over the day so you can truly enjoy everything without getting exhausted.
- Check into whether your hotel has a spa, and indulge in a massage or other relaxation service.
- Take time to enjoy leisurely lunches and dinners with a glass of wine or your favorite beverage. You're on vacation--no need to eat like it's a thirty minute lunch break!
If you're heading somewhere fabulous for vacation, you can certainly see some sights and get much-needed rest from a stressful job or life situation. You just need to plan some downtime into your schedule.
Disengaging from Work and "Real Life"
One of the hardest parts of going on vacation can be leaving that email unanswered or letting that call from your sister go to voicemail. Sometimes, to have a truly relaxing and restful vacation, you must disengage from work and any stressful or demanding relationships with the people in your life.
Before you leave work, turn on your out of office message. Be sure not to say in it that you will return the message soon; instead, say you will return the message on X date and direct the sender to another contact person for urgent matters. Put the same message on your phone. Tell your boss and co-workers that you won't be answering calls or emails while you are out. (It's hard to do this--but you're entitled to your vacation days, and spending them answering phone calls is not restful.)
If you need a little break from family and friends as well, send out a friendly email to your contact list saying where you're going, when you'll be out of town, and that you will send pictures and share stories upon your return. That will set the expectation that you won't be in contact until after your vacation.
With these few tips, you should be able to enjoy a restful and relaxing vacation! And be sure not to leave those days on the table this year--you'll be a better employee, friend, spouse, etc. if you get a little downtime to enjoy yourself and truly recharge.