A Proper Vacation
“No man needs a vacation so much as the person who has just had one.”
- Elbert Hubbard
In general, August is a popular vacation month – and if the beach traffic in my area is any evidence – people are right on track with tradition. Have you taken your annual holiday, realbuzz friends? Or do long out-of-town vacations with all the preparation (organizing pet care and packing) and all that awaits your return (piled up mail, emails, and phone messages) make the mere thought of getting away feel more like a hassle than a holiday?
While it may not be easy on the psyche or budget to get away, especially given the unsteady economic times, taking a proper break (even a small one) from your usual routine energizes your mind, body, and spirit – and helps you better deal with work-related stress.
It’s important to note that “what’s suitable” leisure time is not a one-size-fits-all reply; for some it entails parking your beach chair near the water’s edge and reading a good book, while for others it’s grabbing a surfboard and riding the waves.
New Zealand researchers (Trenberth & Dewe, 2010) studied 695 principals from secondary schools to analyze how vacations served as a coping mechanism from work-related stress, and they found two reasons why leisure time was an effective stress management tool: 1) its “passive/recuperative” nature; 2) its active/challenging nature.
At first glance, the divergent results are puzzling. Yet think about how you handle stress, realbuzz friends. Do you choose calm --- close your eyes and take ten deep breaths – or do you choose active -- lace on your running shoes and hit the pavement? Both approaches reduce stress because they bring about a sense of focus and control.
When doing my research, I found another interesting factoid, realbuzz friends: Americans average ten paid vacation days a year in comparison to our European friends who average double that amount. Don’t fret U.S. comrades; you can gain vacation benefits from just a day trip or a weekend away. Here we are spending a weekend in Key West – looking pretty relaxed, eh?
Regardless of how long or short your break, I’m sure most of you would agree that taking a proper holiday should be a part of your healthy living strategy. If you’ve maxed out your vacation days and need immediate relief from environmental stress, try performing a simple exercise called Palming:
Rub your hands together until they feel warm (about 15 to 20 seconds); then place your cupped hands over your closed eyes. No unnecessary pressure on your face. The fingers of each hand should overlap and rest gently on the center of your forehead. Sit quietly for one to two minutes with your hands over your eyes. The more relaxed you become, the blacker the darkness you will see with your eyes closed. (If your arms get tired, rest your elbows on a table.)
How about you realbuzz friends? Have you ever felt as though you need a vacation from your vacation? What’s your favorite (and most renewing) vacation type – passive or active? How much time do you need to unwind?
Until next time . . . a palming Mare