Are you the type that comes back from vacation and say to yourself, “I need a vacation after my vacation”? Try as you might, too often people overdo it on vacation, and what started as a week to relax turns into something more stressful than what you’re taking a vacation from.
We asked Dr. Patricia Cornett, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor in the UAB Department of Psychiatry how to make vacations more relaxing and less stressful.
Keep it Simple. “We have so much hustle and bustle and so many strains on us,” says Dr. Cornett. “Instead of having a set thing to do every hour of every day, take it easy. Make plans, but don’t to the point that every minute of the day is full.”
If you are visiting a destination with many attractions, pick out a few—even just one a day—and focus on making the most of it. It’s hard to relax when you have one eye on the clock. Also, be sure to keep hours, if not entire days, free from any commitments. This will allow for total relaxation or spontaneity if you wish.
Unplug–Completely. Don’t be afraid to disconnect completely. If you’re on vacation to take a break from work, make sure you plan ahead so coworkers don’t expect to be able to reach you while you’re gone.
“We want to get away from work, but so often people take their laptops and electronic devices with them,” says Cornett. “To get away from this, set it up before you even leave. Talk to coworkers. Say, ‘Look, I’m going on vacation. I’m not going to check my email.’”
Set a Budget Before You Go. Giving yourself limits will prevent overspending—and potentially tarnishing memories once you get home and check your bank account.
“Enjoy what you’re doing. Indulge a little bit, but have a set budget,” says Cornett.
Don’t Abandon Your Health. Vacation is not license to wreak havoc on your body with calories and alcohol, Cornett says. Keep a normal sleeping routine, fit in some exercise—even just a walk—and continue to take any medications you’re on.
Plan Your Return to Real Life. Finally, when it comes to adjusting back to normal life at home, Cornett says a little planning can go a long way.
“Catching up with work before you leave can make going back a lot easier,” Cornett says. “Some people even take the day after their vacation off to take care of the little things around the house. This helps them go to work feeling relaxed and unpressured.”