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Last Updated on November 12, 2017

Still Tired After A Vacation? This Is Probably Why

Still Tired After A Vacation? This Is Probably Why

When you hear the word “vacation”, what comes to mind? For most it means having fun, indulging or pampering themselves to some degree or simply relaxing and catching up on sleep. Most people consider it a time to unwind and recharge away from work and the stresses of life.

However, the reality for some is that they end up feeling even more stressed and exhausted than they did before they went on vacation. Now, how is this possible?

Vacationing the Wrong Way

A common misconception that people have with going on vacation is that they need to make the most out of their trip. They go on every tour they can squeeze in or research 101 places to visit while at their destination and then pack 98 of those suggestions in their itinerary. While making the most of your time away–especially when visiting exotic locations is important, most people over-pack their schedule and overwhelm themselves with busyness which results in more stress and less rest.

In today’s overexposed social media and ultra tech-culture, it is even easier to forget the true meaning of the word “vacation.” Technology and social media has over-promoted and normalized sharing every experience we have–especially while on vacation. The saying, “if you didn’t post about it, did it really happen?” drives our current culture to document and share EVERYTHING.

You Instagram all your meals, snap chat every moment of your time on every tour and check into every “it” spot within 100 miles so you have plenty to post on Facebook. In fact, you spend more time taking the perfect selfie at every stop than you do actually participating in the activity. You end up sacrificing the quality of the trip for the quantity of posts you get out of.

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This flawed “vacation” mindset results in:

Packing too many activities into the trip

You have been wanting to visit Italy for the longest time and you have 2 weeks. You want to make the most out of your trip so you squeeze in every activity (that you have researched on blogs and travel sites) you possibly can. Your vacation days begin early in the morning and ends in the wee hours of the morning. So, you wake up early, go to sleep late and are walking or running around the entire day… And you wonder your body is physically exhausted?

Booking oddly timed flights

In order to maximize your time off of work, you book the first flight out which leaves at the crack of dawn and catch the very the last flight home, with only a couple hours to spare before heading to work the next day. You return to work an exhausted, frazzled and unproductive mess.

Failing to disconnect

During your vacation, you were constantly checking and responding to work emails or completing tasks. Not only are you ruining your vacation because you are not fully present and living in the moment but you are perpetuating the stress you were trying to escape!

The same is true if you spend copious amounts of time snap chatting, Facebooking or Instgramming–updating and showing off for all of your friends and followers– you, again, miss so many beautiful moments.

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Picking the wrong kind of vacation

If you intentionally want to take a break to relax and recharge, then you should pick a place or an activity that does not require intense energy physically (such as hiking to Mount Everest Base Camp) or is mentally draining to plan which counteracts the unwinding process.

Instead, do something that you enjoy or travel to a destination that is tranquil and has minimal distractions.

Vacationing the right way

Learning to appreciate that vacation or holiday time is a chance to unwind and that you shouldn’t feel overwhelmed with planning and trying to create the perfect vacation is the first key to having fun while still being refreshed.

It’s a great idea to enjoy the recommended hot spots, attractions, restaurants and activities, but understand and accept that there will be more activities than you have time for–don’t try to do it all.

Plan a vacation that provides you to be flexible. Eliminating the pressure of having to do it all will leave you feeling refreshed and motivated when it comes time to head back to work.

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Keeping in mind the following will help you to better appreciate your vacation time:

Come home a day early

It’s always a good idea to give yourself one day to recoup before returning to work after a vacation. This allows your body and mind to adjust to being back home and get back into the groove of your work routine. Coming home at least a day before going back to work also allows you to settle in, unpack and do some catching up with work–checking emails–before going back into the office. This gives you room to breathe and reduces the anxiety and stress associated with the impending workload.

Take your time

The purpose of a vacation is to relax and enjoy yourself. So when you finally get to take that trip you’ve been looking forward to, take your time and work to be completely present during every experience. Accept the fact that there will always be more to see and do than you can possibly fit in your vacation. Relax and have fun.

Get Enough Sleep

Again, you want to go on vacation to recharge, so don’t over-crowd your schedule with late night and early morning activities. Make sure you rest and get plenty of sleep. It’s okay to schedule a lazy day during your vacation where you can sleep in and not be bound to an itinerary.

Don’t be too lazy

Just as it is critical to relax, your body also needs some activity to help you fight stress and to feel awake and alive. So don’t overdo it with the sleep and relaxing. Try to fit in the minimum recommended amount of daily exercise and if you don’t exercise take this as an opportunity to start a new habit. Start slow. This goes for sleeping, as well. Get the right amount of sleep for your body. Some people need eight or more hours of sleep per night, however, whatever is typical for you and leaves you feeling refreshed is the right amount of sleep for you. Too much sleep can actually backfire and leave you feeling lethargic, and foggy. As with everything, balance is key.

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Relax and hang loose!

Everyone deserves a vacation or break every now and then to escape the day-to-day grind. It is crucial to ensure that the vacation you take does indeed serve its purpose of letting you feel relaxed and recharged again.

When you feel refreshed and motivated to head back to work, you can perform better and look forward to the next vacation!

Featured photo credit: Photo by Vladislav Muslakov on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on June 10, 2018

Signs Your Lack of Sleep Is Slowly Killing You (And How to Turn Around)

Signs Your Lack of Sleep Is Slowly Killing You (And How to Turn Around)

You hear it over and over again like a broken record: get good sleep on a daily basis, or you’ll suffer the consequences.

Genetically, there are the lucky few who can get away with a lack of sleep and still function at a high level. Let’s face it though — that isn’t you.

Getting great (or at least good) sleep requires a proactive approach and naturally, we’re not exactly the best at this whole strategized approach to sleeping well.

Waking up tired isn’t just about a crappy feeling; it affects your health, your mood and your cognitive function. It’s safe to say we aren’t at our peak performance under the influence of lack of sleep. As much as we love coffee or any source of caffeine, the solution lies in your ability to change your patterns.

The good news is that it’s completely within your control. I’ll show you several strategies you can implement to gain the upper hand in your quest to obtain a proper night’s sleep.

Signs you’re sleep deprived

The alarm yells and you hit the snooze button, hoping for a small window of reprieve. It works until you’re jolted awake by the consistent efficiency of the alarm clock again. So much for hoping it suddenly breaks so you can get an excuse to sleep in.

You begrudgingly get up after the third snooze cycle, haphazardly making your way into the kitchen to start brewing that cup of coffee you so desperately need. All the while you’re swearing at yourself, decrying that this is in fact the last time you’re going to go to bed late this late and wake up.

With the liquid injection of caffeine taking effect, it’s smooth sailing in the morning but before you know it, lunch is around the corner and you’re downing some carb-heavy meal with your colleagues. With a belly full, you settle back in to focus and like clockwork, your eyes shut and your head nods as you fight a losing battle with the nap gods.

You somehow weather this storm, wondering why companies don’t allow siestas that you always hear so many positive things about from your Spanish friends.

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It’s now time to head home and after fighting some traffic that routinely rears its ugly head, you’re back at your place. You’re exhausted mentally and physically. Besides playing with the kids and talking with your significant other, you’ve got just enough energy to eat dinner. But of course you conveniently forgot to pick up the dry cleaning on the way home.

Does this sound like you?

If you paid attention to the hypothetical and quite common situation above, you’ll notice a number of areas that sleep affects: your career, personal life, physical state, and mental state.

Dark eye circles, wrinkles, brain fog, a lack of focus and forgetting things are some examples of far-reaching effects low sleep has in almost every area of your life.

How lack of sleep affects your brain performance

In today’s fast-paced and overly-stimulating society, it’s a full time job in itself trying to stay on track and keep your focus on the task at hand. We’re the masters of multi-tasking and that’s not always a good thing.

When you’re tired, your cognitive function decreases as a result of neurons (the basic building block cells of the brain) having trouble communicating properly. This leads to temporary mental lapses that affect both memory and your personal visual perception.

In other words, you become more forgetful. You get distracted more easily and lose focus. You can’t think straight, better known as brain fog.

How long does it take for all this to happen? Just one bad night of sleep.

How lack of sleep affects your health

While battling the brain, you’re also at severe risk of affecting your overall health if you can’t manage enough sleep.

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Here are some of the effects you could experience:[1]

  • Heart disease – You have a 48% increased chance of heart disease, including an elevated risk of a heart attack.[2]
  • High blood pressure -Your blood pressure could skyrocket, induced by both stress and low sleep.
  • Stroke – With your brain constantly fatigued and not able to properly repair itself overnight, your chances of stroke increase.
  • Diabetes – You’re at nearly three times the risk for Type II diabetes.
  • Lower sex drive – Your partner probably won’t be a fan of this and neither will you. Your sex drive plummets when you’re groggy and for good reason: you just don’t have the energy to accomplish simple tasks, let alone get frisky.
  • Higher chance of depression – Your energy levels go down and in turn your outlook on life can take a hit. In fact, getting too much or too little sleep is usually the first sign of mental health issues.[3]
  • Weight gain – Weight gain is another side effect of lack of sleep. Your glucose metabolism takes a beating along with the hormones that regulate your overall metabolism, shown through decreased leptin levels and increased ghrelin levels.[4] Leptin acts as an appetite suppressant and is released when you’re full, while ghrelin is released from the stomach in response to fasting and promotes the feeling of hunger.
  • Decreased immune function – The immune system takes a big hit when you’re consistently running low on a good night’s rest. In fact, you’re three times more likely to catch a cold according to John Hopkins Medicine.

And the list goes on.

How to get sufficient sleep (The essential tips)

With all the things that can potentially go wrong with a lack of sleep, it’s no surprise we struggle when we’re tired. Lucky we can actively combat our fatigued ways through a variety of time-tested methods, hacks and tips:

Establish a (short) nightly routine

Our brain loves habits and routines. In fact, our brain loves them so much it’s a good and a bad thing. The brain doesn’t know the difference between what’s considered productive and what’s a waste of time, so it’s up to you to establish the difference between the good and the bad.

One excellent habit is to create a sort of nighttime routine, which effectively tricks the brain into bedtime mode by starting a process of chemical reactions that signal you’re about to lay down soon.

Don’t worry; this is nothing that requires some elaborate, long process. It ideally should be something short.

What do you include in this routine then?

Your options are fairly vast, anything from:

  • meditating for a few minutes
  • sitting down and thinking about how the day went
  • thinking about some things you’re grateful for, journaling or writing
  • reading for 15-30 minutes
  • getting involved in a relaxing hobby
  • countless other things.

By establishing a routine and following through on it consistently, you’ve successfully associated that routine with sleep. You can take a look at the night routine of Lifehack’s CEO as reference: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide: Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

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If you notice, none of the above habits involve technology. It’s been studied extensively that blue light emitted by our screens can potentially disrupt your sleep cycle.

If you happen to find yourself on the computer in the evenings, do yourself a favor and install a program called Flux. As the night wears on, Flux continually erases the blue light more and more until it’s virtually eliminated from your screen, helping you avoid the sleep-blocking blue light.

Don’t go to bed hungry (And do eat carbs)

Most sources will agree that eating super late lends itself to a disaster — your body is allocating resources trying to digest a heavy meal and you’ll have trouble falling asleep. That heavy, pressing feeling on your stomach as you try to turn out the lights just doesn’t work for many people.

As a result, you’ll read about how staying away from food for a few hours before bed is the smart choice, especially when it involves carbs.

But studies have shown that eating carbs at night (especially starchy carbs) can actually help you fall asleep faster.[5] Tryptophan and serotonin, two brain chemicals involved in sleep, are naturally boosted after eating carbs. Ever felt like taking a nap after a big, starchy meal? You get the idea behind it now.

Now, that doesn’t mean you should eat a pepperoni pizza two hours before bed. But swearing off carbs after 3 PM isn’t the solution either. Don’t be afraid of them and make sure you aren’t going to bed hungry. Be reasonable.

Reserve bed for sleeping and sex only

Your bed should only be used for sleeping and aside from that, a little friskiness. Anything else has no place there.

Trying to study or read in bed is a disaster for your sleep cycle. When your head hits that pillow, your brain needs to know that it’s sleep time, not social media time or reading time or even studying time.

Remember how earlier I suggested that executing on a relaxed nighttime routine or habit tricks your brain into starting the process of releasing sleep inducing hormones and chemicals since it expects to shut down soon for some slumber?

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One of those habits is getting the brain to believe that sleep is right around the corner once you lay in your bed. If you begin to associate your bed with activities such as reading or studying, your brain may fail to make the right association. It’s only science.

Listen to a podcast or audiobook

Not a fan of reading actual books? Soak it in through your ears and there’s no better time before bed. It’s a chance to kick back, relax and potentially even close your eyes as you listen to an audiobook of your choice.

If you’d prefer not to pay for the audio version of a book, there’s also thousands of podcasts available for free. Ranging from storytelling to personal development and anything in between, there’s never been a better selection of tools at your disposal.

Keep your schedule consistent

Whatever you do, keep consistency. Implementing a good routine or habit for a week and then falling off won’t do you much good. If you’re confused why something isn’t working, focus on your execution.

Things like this take time — you can’t expect a 180 turnaround after a week or two. This is especially true when you’ve already tricked your brain into association with a bad habit that you’re trying to undo.

Neuroplasticity, the ability for the brain cells to form connections based on repetition is a real thing. Like anything, it can be good or bad — if you’ve implemented great habits, neuroplasticity is an awesome thing. If you’ve implemented bad habits, it’s a bad thing.

But lucky for you, it’s completely possible to undo bad connections and form good ones with a little bit of patience and grit. Here’s how you can learn to break a bad habit: How I Broke 3 Bad Habits in Less Than 2 Months

Don’t wait to start

If you could start making changes today to help you get better sleep, what would you do? If you’re consistently not getting enough sleep, it’s time to implement some great habits into your lifestyle to bring yourself to peak performance.

Developing a routine, listening to audiobooks or podcasts, keeping a consistent schedule, reserving the bed for sleeping only and staying satiated are just a few of the choices at your disposal.

It’s time to go out and get the sleep you deserve.

Featured photo credit: Sarah Diniz Outeiro on Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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