If you've decided to skip a vacation this summer because you're just too busy and stressed out to book a ticket and pack a suitcase, think again.
It might seem counterintuitive, but a well-planned and smoothly executed getaway could be the closest thing to a cure-all for what ails at the workplace, on the home front and everywhere in between.
Many studies and surveys agree: Not only do workers report higher job satisfaction in the weeks leading up to and immediately following vacations, but spouses also say the flame burns a bit brighter after, say, a Caribbean cruise or a mountain retreat.
It's About Wellness
Here are some of the real wellness benefits vacations give us, and a few tips for maximizing these healthy rewards:
- Stress reduction: Easing the stress and seeming chaos in your life directly correlates with lower blood pressure, better sleep habits, improved memory function, and fewer headaches and muscle aches.
- Career stability and advancement: Changing up your everyday routine and taking on new challenges in strange places can be a high-octane boost for the brain. Even just a few days spent away from the office can help improve mood, promote creativity and ultimately spur post-vacation productivity.
- Plan: Not only will a proactive approach to travel planning reduce the likelihood of unexpected surprises, but studies have also shown that a vacation's good vibes kick in weeks and even months before the "official" vacation begins. The sooner you start to dream and plan a getaway, the longer you can stretch out this pre-vacation bliss.
- Strive for balance: Try not to overindulge in sun, spirits or sand-castle building. Be sure to budget time to rest and relax. After all, it's a vacation, not a military expedition. And don't completely abandon sensible nutrition fundamentals while enjoying the local cuisine.
- Unwind and unplug: Turn off the laptop, smartphone, TV and radio. Shut yourself off from the 24/7 news cycle for a couple of days. (If something happens that's really important, you'll probably hear a loud siren or someone will come find you.)
- Play catch-up: Vacation is a great time to recommit yourself to a regular exercise regimen. Pick up some new cross-training sneakers, try a yoga class or go out and take up a new sport.
- Before you go, plan a re-entry strategy: Try to build into your schedule at least a day to unpack and take care of errands once you're home. If you know you will soon be in the thick of things at work, try to block your first day back so you'll be completely free of appointments and other obligations. You don't want to be stressing out about all that when you're supposed to be reading on the beach.
Sometimes a getaway vacation just isn't possible -- but many of these healthy escape strategies can still apply to make a long weekend at home a "stay-cation." Tend your garden, go for long quiet walks, disconnect from your electronic devices, and try as hard as possible to escape your work-a-day routine.