In Finland and much of Europe, it’s time for the summer holidays, with people typically taking 2-5 weeks off to travel, spend time at summer cottages, or just slow down and do things they normally don’t have time to do. The idea is to recharge and re-energize. However, recent articles and social media postings by wellness experts and expert organizations suggest that vacations – as great as the intent is – tend to actually cause stress! Some of the headlines that have recently caught my eye include “Things to avoid during your vacation”, “8 ways to prevent holiday stress” and “How to take a stress-free vacation from your stressful job”.
Apparently there is more to a vacation than closing the office door and plugging in the personal re-charger! One of Firstbeat’s lifestyle mantras is find the right balance and this is true for vacations as well.
Here’s our TOP 5 list of things to keep in mind:
1. Figure out what YOU need the most and plan accordingly. There is no right or wrong way to spend a vacation, and different people benefit from different things, but try to avoid too many schedules and must-do’s. Reality does dictate some things, and it’s usually necessary to compromise and consider others (spouses, kids…), but it’s also ok to be a bit selfish and not forget your own needs!
2. Keep Tip 1) in mind when you read through the other tips!
3. Fitness and exercise:
– “Can’t-let-goers”: If you have a tendency to overdo it, and you follow a strict exercise regimen year around, let your body and mind relax for once and only do what feels right, without goals. Maybe try some new things, even if it’s “just for fun” and has no effect on your maxVO2 or fitness development. Elite athletes need their off-season – so why not you!
– “Let-it-sliders”: If you struggle with finding time for exercise or typically feel distressed after the vacation because you left all exercise off the menu, dig out some self-discipline and do some advance planning on how to dedicate the time for some fun fitness activities during your holiday. Go dancing, do some calisthenics, try a new group exercise, go on long walks with family or friends. You will likely feel better after the holiday!
4. Allow some time for just being! Without guilt. Reading, movies, music, wandering in the woods, hammock time, naps, gazing at the sea or the sunset, listening to the silence … whatever works for you. Our daily lives around the year tend to be so hectic that there is real value in this!
5. Prioritize recovery and sleep. Vacations often include long days and long nights of fun and a lot of activity, and that’s fine, but make sure you also prioritize some long, peaceful sleeps with no predictable disturbing factors (for example alcohol or stimulants). It’s easier to stock up on sleep and recovery during a vacation than during the working year, so remember to take advantage of it!
Bonus tip – figure out what works for you regarding work. Some people can and need to withdraw themselves completely from work emails and calls, others might feel better checking in periodically, but be sure to also break away from the work routines and ensure that work tasks and issues do not occupy your mind constantly. Removing the e-mail reminders from the front page of your cell phone might be a good 1st step… (this is one of my own must-do’s; I want the e-mails hidden behind a few clicks!)
Wishing you all relaxing, enjoyable and energizing days this summer!
Want to know how different kind of changes in everyday life or in holidays impact your stress and recovery levels?
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