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How to actually have a vacation on vacation

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© iStockphoto.com / Christian Wheatley © iStockphoto.com / Christian Wheatley


By Derek Beres
From
Completely You


Ever find yourself saying you need a vacation after your vacation? Instead of getting the downtime and rejuvenation our bodies require, we sometimes return feeling even more depleted than when we left.

As someone who travels frequently, I've come to recognize that everything from my anticipation of my flight, right down to how I handle the day after I come back, has an impact on how rested I am when I return home. If you do a little pre-vacation preparation, you'll find that you can truly ease back while you're away. Here's how I make it happen:


Start to Relax Before You Leave


I always make sure I'm well-rested before I take off. For a long time, the night before a trip would guarantee insomnia for me. If I were leaving on a Friday, on Monday I would begin thinking about how little sleep I would get Thursday night. Obviously, I was creating stress by convincing myself I would not sleep ahead of time.

Two things helped me get out of this habit. First, I stopped waiting to pack until the night before (or worse, the morning of) my trip. If I'm leaving on Friday, I begin packing on Tuesday, so that by Thursday night, everything is in place.

Second, I make yoga mandatory on Thursday afternoon or evening -- a rigorous, physical Vinyasa practice always helps me sleep. For those who want a less active evening, try a restorative yoga practice. That, combined with a brief (five to 10 minutes) meditation before going to bed does the trick.


Put Away Your Planner


Don't schedule every second of your vacation ahead of time. Of course, some events must be planned in advance, such as theater tickets and day trips. But if your agenda is crammed the entire time, exhaustion is guaranteed (unless, of course, your main agenda, as mine is this week, is to ‘lie on beach as long as possible.').

I'm generally someone who does not like activity-free days. Still, I don't book up every moment beforehand. I might plan something vague like ‘I know I want to take a yoga class on Wednesday.' That said, I wait until I get to my destination before figuring out which studio to go to and what class to take. That way, if something else comes up, I don't feel like I've let myself down by not sticking to my plans. Flexibility is key.


Leave Time for Play


When my trips are work-related, I try to add an extra day or two into the schedule so that I can explore the cities I am visiting. This isn't always possible, but for the most part, having at least one day of ‘down time' helps me really enjoy the new environment, which always results in better outcomes with my assignments.

You can do this on vacation if, say, you're heading to a three-day yoga retreat, bike ride or hiking expedition. Add a fourth day before or after for quiet time, and you'll find transitioning into/out of your trip much more rewarding.


Return With Grace


This is probably the hardest lesson I've learned, and I can't say I'm always the best at it. If you have to return to work on Monday morning, for example, don't fly home late Sunday night. You're just going to wake up frazzled and depressed.

Obviously, we want to squeeze as much time out of our vacations as possible, but going right from our journey back to ‘normal life' is tough. If possible, return Sunday morning so you have a day to decompress and readjust, or take off Monday morning so you can sleep in.

If you can't pull that off, don't plan anything for Monday evening, so you can at least have that night to yourself before fully getting back in the swing of your everyday life.

 

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