You work hard all year and look forward to taking vacation time to unwind, right? Research out of the University of Ottawa shows that if you’re relying on an annual vacation to beat stress, you just may be disappointed.
The typical vacations we are taking do not beat long-term work-related stress levels. As in, you may unwind a bit and experience a decrease in stress while away on vacation, but their study shows that most people simply go right back to the old increased stress levels as soon as they get back to work.
For still others, they are never truly relaxing on vacation anyway – for example expending a lot of energy on activities which sap their resources or take up a lot of time. Of course for some, feeling as though they are achieving something is important so setting a few vacation-related goals may in fact decrease their stress levels, but it is also important to remember to truly let go and relax.
For example, you could make sure that you include activities in your schedule which actually give back energy or peace of mind: massages, yoga classes or taking up a passion hobby could help with this. Of course, bear in mind that you should do things which are within your budget or more stress will ensue later!
Another important thing to remember is that the annual vacation simply isn’t enough when it comes to managing stress long-term. Who wants to wait until only one time per year to relax? Use other time that you have away from work, such as evenings or weekends to relax and recharge.
Researchers also suggest “mini vacations”, by which they really mean simply taking a bit of time out for yourself. They suggest that even if that is just taking a 20 minute walk at lunchtime, that this will pay off in terms of benefits for relaxing.
As far as your annual vacation, trying out new things or seeing new places can be great fun, but try not to have overly complex vacation plans with strict timetables. You will find that these simply add another level of stress as you run around trying to stick the schedule!
Time-out from work is essential if you want to maintain healthy levels of stress and not end up burning out. Just make sure your vacation is truly the kind to unwind!