I read a New York Times story a month or so ago about how checking your email increases your stress level. Of course, I thought, that’s why I don’t check mine when I’m hungover, depressed, anxious or tired. That little digital box contains every task to be done, appointment to be made and deadline to be met.
This study, by the University of California at Irvine, found increased productivity and reduced heart rates among office workers who did not check their email throughout the day. Details aside, I have gleaned that there is something to be said about vacations.
Whether it's a five-minute personal pow-wow at work or a year-long sojourn across the globe, vacationing – really, just giving yourself a break – rejuvenates mind, body and emotions and restores your energy to face everyday challenges.
So take a second, or a day, all to yourself and relax. Here are some ideas:
The Day Trip. Something you do with your mom or your best friend when you’re feeling cheesy. Drive a couple hours out of town and find a pretty spot or a picnic or look for antique shops. You'd be surprised what's hiding just outside of your city.
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The Four-Day Weekend. This usually happens for an event like St. Patrick’s Day or Mardi Gras. Something that requires significant recovery time in a city where you know someone and can sleep for free. You’ll look forward to it for months, but it’ll only cost about $100 if you’re a cheapskate and $250 if you’re that friend who gets drunk and buys everyone shots.
The Mid-Week Bail. Once, I didn’t have class on a Friday. I had work though, that day and the Wednesday and Thursday before it. But my friends were driving to Chicago and I had $75 in my checking account, none in my savings account, and the cajones to call into work and still expect to have a job.
The Escape to Central America. I needed a serious break before my sophomore year in college, so I took advantage of my generous, adventurous mother who paid for me to go gallivanting off to Costa Rica for a semester. It changed my life, and I came back in the spring with a new-found confidence and boost in energy that has buoyed me since.
Go for it. Take a vacation and focus on yourself. Your heart will thank you.