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10 Ways to Reduce Vacation Stress so You Can Truly Unwind

10 Ways to Reduce Vacation Stress so You Can Truly Unwind

Going on vacation has been proven to be good for your health. In fact, studies have shown that men who fail to go on vacation at least once a year have a 32 percent higher chance of dying from a heart attack than their vacation-going peers. Despite this, the stress-busting benefits of taking time off can be dramatically reduced if you aren’t careful. Therefore, instead of making your vacation merely a different type of stress, it is wise to follow a few simple steps to ensure you truly get the most out of your downtime.

1. Pick One Main Activity Per Day

Are you the type of person who typically jams as much into each vacation day as possible? This often happens because people feel like they have to see or do everything in a new area, but the truth is that you don’t, nor should you attempt to. Going on a holiday gives you the opportunity to experience new places and culture, but you aren’t going to be able to fully relax and enjoy yourself if you are over-scheduled. Avoid this problem by picking one main activity per day. You may visit fewer tourist hot-spots than usual, but you’re also highly likely to have a lot more fun.

2. Arrange Parking in Advance

Parking can be a nightmare, and it is often very expensive to leave your vehicle at a hotel. However, if your vacation plans involve driving a car, it is necessary to deal with these challenges. The good news is that there are parking services and apps such as Your Parking Space that give you the opportunity to arrange your parking in advance or even while you are on the go. This will provide you with pricing information up front, and it will take a lot of the guesswork out of finding a place to park in a new area.

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3. Unplug from Email and Social Media

It is easy to get sucked into work email or excessive social media posting while you are on vacation, but this is not relaxing in the slightest. Studies indicate that a lot of screen time could make it more difficult for you to fall asleep, and it might even make you more prone to experiencing depression. When you combine this with the simple fact that taking on work stress during your time off makes it feel like less of a vacation, it is easy to understand why some people put their phone away when they go on a holiday.

4. Provide a Buffer Before and After Your Trip

Are you planning to fly out after work or return to the office the morning after a red-eye flight back home? This might seem like the best way to maximize your time, but you are going to pay for it in lost sleep and added stress. Even if you end up with one or two fewer days at your destination, it will be worth it to add some buffer time to both ends of your trip. In other words, leave the next morning instead, and come back a day early so that you can get back into the groove of your daily life before starting work again. As an added bonus, taking this approach will help you minimize the feelings of stress that are associated with getting ready and transitioning far too quickly. This is especially critical if you will be changing time zones.

5. Choose a Staycation Instead

Are you looking for a way to enjoy a long weekend or even a week without spending a lot of money? Ditch the financial stress and the complications associated with traveling by planning a staycation instead! You will be in the comfort of familiar surroundings, but you will also be able to give yourself permission to let the housework slide for a few days and explore some new places within your local area. You can save even more money by choosing cheap or free activities such as going to a nearby national park or a free music event.

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6. Vacation Alone or in a Group of Two

Vacationing as a family or with friends always sounds like a great idea, but the reality is that this often leads to disagreements and a lot of compromising. To avoid these stressors, go on a vacation by yourself or with just one other person who has similar interests and holiday goals. When you don’t have to coordinate everything with multiple people, it will naturally become much easier to relax, set a slower pace and cross off your major must-sees during your trip. Another nice perk of solo travel is that you can focus more on mindfulness, which has been proven to reduce the stress hormone.

7. Consider Public Transportation

If you don’t need to have a car with you to get around the local area, it can be very stress relieving to rely on public transportation instead. Of course, your destination needs to have a robust and reliable public transportation system for this to work, so be sure to do some research before you make any definitive decisions. Some places offer discount packages for travelers who will be regularly taking a train or bus for a few days, which could be a good way to save some money. You can also help the environment by choosing public transportation. In fact, subways reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a whopping 76 percent when compared to a standard passenger vehicle.

8. Choose a Relaxing Destination

Every destination has the potential to be relaxing if it allows you to indulge in your passions, but it is much less stress inducing to go somewhere with a laid back vibe. This is the primary reason that beach towns and resorts are so popular, and you can get even better results by going the week before the peak season begins. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit some of the biggest cities on earth if they are on your bucket list, but it does mean you should also prioritize fitting in a more relaxing destination for some of your trips.

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9. Pack Everything in Advance

Some people find themselves still packing a few minutes before heading to the airport, and this is going to cause you to deal with a lot of unnecessary stress. Do yourself a favor and make sure that everything except for a few smaller items such as your toothbrush are packed by the day before you leave. This is also good advice to follow when it is time to return from vacation. Ultimately, it is wise to prepare as much as possible in advance to eliminate any last minute rushing around because we all know there’s nothing relaxing about cramming clothes into a suitcase when you should be leaving.

10. Make Time for Personal Self-Care Activities

It may be tempting to schedule every vacation activity around the attractions you can only find at your destination, but if you truly want to relax, be sure to include some personal self-care. For example, massages are well-known to reduce stress and anxiety, so booking into a spa for an hour or two will make your vacation more relaxing. You may also want to consider going to a movie to unwind while steering clear of the hottest part of the day.

A vacation is a proven way to lower your stress levels, but it also important to incorporate stress management techniques into your daily life. After all, stress is the leading cause of doctor visits in the U.S., so it is clear that everyone needs to find ways to relax more frequently and effectively.

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Featured photo credit: Jean Beaufort via publicdomainpictures.net

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Holly Chavez

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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