Vacation. Remember those? Vacations were a time when we actually stepped away from work and didn’t answer the phone for work-related calls and didn’t check our work related e-mail. We spent time connecting to other people, our loved ones and sometimes strangers (and sometimes these were one in the same based on working 70-80 hours per week). But now, at the end of 2017, many of us work all of the time including when we are officially taking vacation time.
My husband has off from Christmas Eve through January 1 so he’s officially on vacation, and today is our third wedding anniversary. We, along with our red heeler Australian cattle dog, are at a posh and historic resort in the California desert. We arrived yesterday afternoon and my husband spent a couple of hours before supper dealing with a work emergency. And his boss called during breakfast this morning. And if you couldn’t tell, I am writing this blog while on vacation too. We are prime examples of the people interviewed by Glassdoor and Harris Interactive; 61 percent said they work while on vacation.
You could say its our choice whether or not we work or devote ourselves to downtime or that the type of work my husband does dictates that he’s on call 24/7, 365 days per year. But regardless of why, for mental and physical health reasons it would behoove us to let go of the work and focus our attention on fun. Carla Clark, Ph.D. wrote that vacations help us with feelings of life satisfaction, improve our sleep quality and moods, boost our creativity, lower our anxiety and stress levels and help us be happier when we do return to work.
And I’ve written in the past how vacations can keep your heart healthy by reducing risks of heart disease; they improve your mental health (A survey of almost 1400 participants in studies on breast cancer, cardiovascular disease and other conditions, conducted by the University of Pittsburgh Mind-Body Center, found that “Leisure, including vacations, contributed to more positive emotions and fewer negative feelings and depression,” as reported by NPR.); and improve our relationships with other people.
So how can we make the most of our vacations and recapture those vacation feelings?
First, we need to actually take vacation time. Surveys have shown that just under half of Americans do not take the vacation days that are allotted to them every year.
Second, when we take time out from our normal everyday lives, we should designate electronics-free time each day. Carve out an hour or four and don’t answer the phone or check our e-mail. Spend the time getting in touch with yourself and reconnecting with your loved ones. Meditate. Read a book. Walk the dog. Share a meal. Have sex (if that gets postponed often by work or exhaustion due to the many hours spent working).
Third, incorporate self-care rituals into your vacation time (and try to incorporate them into your daily life.) Take some deep breaths, take a nature bath (as the Japanese call walking in the woods and being mindful of the trees, birds and little creatures), do some yoga, soak in the tub, get a massage or a facial, exercise or establish a new exercise routine, do something healthy and creative like cooking, painting, journaling or writing or whatever you enjoy. Or take a class you’ve always want to take but haven’t found the time or bandwidth for before.
Disrupting our routines by taking time to do things we enjoy and that nourish our bodies, minds, emotions and souls makes us feel more relaxed and at peace. And we could all use more of both of those.
So I’m going to sign off, pull on my hiking boots, put the leash on the dog, grab my husband’s hand and take my own advice. Until the new year…