5 Ways to Recharge Without Taking a Vacation
By Maria Hanson, LiveCareer
Want a vacation, but just can't take one? Despite mounting evidence that vacations are essential to happy, healthy workers, some bosses still balk at the prospect of letting employees leave for a solid week or two--especially in this economic climate. And only half of employees are willing to speak up and ask a boss for support in taking a vacation, according to Ron McMillan, a coauthor of the New York Times bestselling book "Crucial Conversations."
It's time for managers to get up-to-speed on the benefits of vacations, according to Jenni Luke, national executive director of Step Up Women's Network. "The best supervisors insist that tired eyes and minds spend time away in order to return refreshed and ready," she says.Even when employers approve vacations, more than one-third of Americans lucky enough to get paid vacation time don't take all their vacation days, according to the Expedia.com 2009 Vacation Deprivation survey. Reasons range from being afraid of losing footing at work to not having enough money for a vacation.
If you really can't escape for a big getaway, all is not lost. Here are some alternatives to a traditional vacation that can give you the same benefits:
1. Mini-vacations. You don't need to travel abroad for weeks at a time to benefit from a vacation. A few days off here and there can recharge your batteries. Take a Friday and Monday off, for instance, and enjoy four solid days of time away.
"Mini-vacations are priceless and help make work less stressful overall," says Talia Witkowski, a consultant for Heal Your Hunger, a concierge treatment service that helps people achieve and maintain work-life balance.
2. Daily vacations. "Be sure to do the things you love that are healthy and enjoyable every day, and not solely wait until vacation time to relax," says psychologist Kenneth Herman, the author of "Secrets from the Sofa." Take that dance class you've been wanting to take, or learn to sail. Treating yourself to daily perks that make you happy can make life downright enjoyable between vacations.
Having a job you love can also help put you in a vacation state of mind year-round. Take a free career test to find your dream career.
3. Mental vacations. Therapist Mindy Fox advises that if you can't take a physical vacation, you should take a mind vacation. "Incorporate meditation, yoga, or any activity that puts the mind in the present," she says. An additional benefit is that when your vacation does finally come, you'll be able to disconnect any workaholic tendencies more easily and embrace your well-deserved time off.
4. Staycations. A staycation, where your vacation base is your home, is an economical and relaxing way to kick back during vacation time. More than half of Americans say they plan to stay close to home this summer, according to the newly released Chase Freedom-U.S. News Consumer Monitor Summer Survey. Avoid the stress that often comes with vacationing (think airport security lines and cramped seats), and save big bucks.
And you can do many of the things you'd do on a traditional vacation: sleep late, check out local fun events or tourist attractions, embark on a new hobby, and go to a fun restaurant or two. Keep household chores to a minimum; with the money they save by not traveling, some staycationers even hire a housekeeper once or twice during their time off.
5. Unplug. "We live in a world where people go on camping trips with their laptops and cell phones," says Barry Maher, the author of the career book "Filling the Glass." This is no way to recharge your batteries. No matter how engaged you are with your job, it's essential to check out occasionally. (Find a job you can connect with, with a career interest test.) Even if you can't really get away, you can still unplug from the world of work emails, texting, and other job leashes.Maggie Mistal, career coach and host of the radio show Making a Living, advises that if you promised you'd be in touch, pick a regular time and stick to it. And then don't even think of opening your computer to check in until the next scheduled time.