Twenty percent of us would take a lower salary in exchange for more vacation time, according to a 2006 Expedia and Ipsos Reid survey. No surprises there – who, in these frantic times, doesn't want another week on the beach or at the cottage? What's shocking is that despite our desires, we're not even taking the days we have -- on average, Canadians only get 19 vacation days, and we don't even take two of them.
"We want more vacation time, yet we're not great at using all of the time that we have available to us," says Beverly Beuermann-King, a stress and wellness specialist. "There's always one more job, one more project, and sometimes we put those things ahead of our me time."
But it's important to take some time for ourselves. We're more productive if we take the time to recharge – regular vacations prevent burnout, help our bodies return to a state of calm from high everyday stresses and rejuvenate our minds by challenging us. Problem is, sometimes you feel like you need a vacation to recover from time off.
Here are Beuermann-King's tips on how to get organized and have a stress-free vacation.
Working for the weekend: Minimize the impact at work
Many companies are still hesitant to see the importance of vacation days, although progressive companies are beginning to realize their value. No matter which kind of corporation you work for, talk to your boss or manager about timing and try to pick a week that will be slower at office, "so you're not doing two week's worth of work the week before," says Beuermann-King.
Plan the vacation that's right for you
Pick a vacation that will be a change of pace. If you're uninspired by your everyday life, then pick something exciting, like an exotic locale or camping or rock climbing; if you're overstressed, go to an all-inclusive resort or take a cruise.
And if you do need a week of relaxation, plan out your downtime during it. "Don't do all the side trips and see all the sites," says Beuermann-King, explaining that when she recently took her two young children to Florida, they spent every other day sightseeing and the rest of the vacation relaxing by the pool. Follow her example and plan a few days to just enjoy your family's company. Lower your stress while there by booking as much of your trip in advance as possible, and try to get package deals or all-inclusive offers to simplify the process.
Page 1 of 2Go back to work stress-free
Ease your transition back into your daily routine by adding a day off to the end of your vacation, so you can unpack, buy groceries and get organized when you return. Give yourself the same cushion at work by having your e-mail and voice-mail messages say you'll be returning calls and e-mail a day later than your actual return date.
Most importantly, says Beuermann-King, don't treat this vacation as your last, and be realistic about what can be accomplished. A well-planned vacation makes you a better mother, lover -- and even a more productive worker. "It gives you a chance for your body to return to a normal, relaxed state," she says. So take all your days, and use them well. See you at the beach!
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