Have you taken your summer vacation yet? When was the last time you took a vacation? Vacations are meant to provide rest, rejuvenation, and fun. Most of us fall short on all of these in this fast-paced world we live in. For many, gone are the days of the work day ending at 5 O’clock. Gone are the days of a weekly day of rest. Technology allows us (or requires us) to work 24-7. And we all know parents never truly get a sick day or day off.
Vacations decrease stress. Many find they sleep better and feel better physically. Vacations also increase productivity. Employers don’t give paid time off to be nice. They do it because they realize happy, healthy employees are more productive and work harder. Vacations also strengthen relationships. They are great ways to bond with family or friends. My family just returned from visiting extended family on the other side of the country. Due to the cost, we don’t see them very often. It was really rewarding to see my children bonding with their cousins, aunts, and uncles. We reminisced about the past and built new memories together.
Planning vacations also gives us something to look forward to. In her book The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin explains how we can extend the happiness we experience by both savoring the planning and anticipating as well as savoring the memories after we return.
So, if you’ve taken a vacation recently, browse though your photos. Use one as your screen saver or hang one at your desk perhaps. Talk about the trip with those you traveled with or write about it in a journal or blog. If you haven’t taken a vacation lately, no more excuses! You don’t have to go to Hawaii (although that’s certainly nice) to relax. And you don’t need to take two weeks off (again, that’s nice but not practical for many). Even a day at the local beach or hiking trail can help.
Sharon C. Martin, LCSW