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4 Simple Tips for Taking Advantage of Summer Vacation

4 Simple Tips for Taking Advantage of Summer Vacation


    As the dog days of summer approach, many of you will be fortunate enough to be able to take a vacation. Here are four ways to put that vacation to good use:

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    1. Actually take a break

    After several months of a hectic work schedule, you may have convinced yourself that idleness is a sin. To successfully recover during a vacation, you need to break free of this mindset: it’s perfectly okay to do nothing more than sit on the beach. This might sound obvious, but a 2010 survey by the travel site Expedia found that only 45 percent of Americans say they feel rested when they return to work after a vacation.

    Of course, vacations themselves can sometimes be overwhelming, especially when you bring along the kids. So be sure to schedule “vacations from your vacation”—hire a babysitter to watch your children while you and your spouse enjoy a romantic dinner. Or go for a quick, peaceful walk along the beach after your young children go to bed or before your teenage children wake up.

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    2. Kick your email addiction

    Whether or not you’ve brought along your kids, one surefire way to ruin a vacation is to endlessly check your email. Anytime you check your work email, your mind goes back to “work mode”—it frets about unfinished tasks, and worries about the work that might pile up while you’re away. It’s okay to check your email once or twice a day, but you simply can’t focus on your kids, your spouse, or yourself if you’re thinking about that email you have to send.

    In order to avoid having to check your email, or answer unwanted phone calls, you might need to be assertive with your boss and your peers. Make it clear to them that you are, in fact, on vacation—rather than merely working remotely.

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    3. Keep a healthy sleep schedule

    On the weekends and on vacation, most people shift their sleep schedule: they stay up later, and then sleep in. When they return to work, however, they typically have to shift back to an earlier wake-up time, all at once. This phenomenon has recently been dubbed “social jet lag,” and researchers have linked it to negative health outcomes such as obesity. So, for your health, try to go to sleep at a similar hour on vacation as you do during a workweek.

    Of course, an early bedtime is not conducive to late-night partying. So if you want to dance the night away, do so in the first half of your vacation. Then gradually bring your sleep schedule back in line with what it will have to be when you return to work.

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    4. Make a career check-up

    Many professionals can lose sight of the big picture when they are consumed by the day-to-day assignments of their jobs. A vacation is an opportunity for you to think about these more fundamental questions.

    One important part of your big picture is your career. I personally believe you should reevaluate your career at least once each year, and a vacation an appropriate time to reflect a little.  Why so often? Because a lot can happen in a year. You may learn more about the pros and cons of your current job. You might have sent a child off to college. You may have gotten a new boss or new colleagues.

    Thinking about these changes can help you make better decisions about the next step you should take. However, this career check-up doesn’t need to be a strenuous task where you write down every pro and con about your current job. You just need to step back and reflect—ask yourself whether this particular job is the right one for the stage of your career.

    (Photo credit: Relaxing on the Beach via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on January 14, 2019

    7 Ways To Make Exercise Fun For Everyone

    7 Ways To Make Exercise Fun For Everyone

    From Atkins to Paleo to eating gluten-free despite not being one of the rare few people afflicted with celiac disease, fad diets are everywhere. It drives me crazy because I believe these diets do more harm than good. Your body is made up of a variety of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals, and losing weight healthily isn’t possible when you fill your body with unnecessary synthetic plastics, sugars, and powders. There’s no easy button in life.

    What you need to do is exercise, which isn’t very appealing to many people. Workouts take work, so there’s already a stigma involved in going to the gym. Starting a healthy workout regimen becomes easier when you make it fun. If you want to live long and prosper, get off the couch and try these methods to turn your workout into a playout.

    1. Take the scenic route.

    Walking is an easy way to transition to a healthy lifestyle, and it’s free. Not only do you burn calories (check out this calculator for how many calories you burn based on your weight), but you see the world in a different way. Hiking in nature is great if you have access to it, but don’t let living in an urban area deter you from walking.

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    Whenever I’m creatively stuck I get my head straight by walking a couple of miles. It’s also how I discover new paths, meet new people, and stumble upon hole-in-the-wall spots I never would have found otherwise. You could drive past the same place every day and never appreciate the beauty, nor even notice it’s there.

    2. Distract yourself.

    No matter what exercise routine you choose, use the time to meditate. You may wonder how marathon runners are able to put so many miles on their bodies. It’s because the pain from running that you avoid is something they’ve learned to harness to enter a transcendental state. If you’re aware of the benefits of meditation and exercise but don’t have time to do both, you can combine them, killing two birds with one healthy stone.

    3. Listen to music or podcasts.

    There are few experiences in life more pleasurable than turning up the music and drowning out the world around you. With so many podcasts and music apps available on your smartphone, you can easily find entertainment options perfectly suited to your personal tastes. Never worry what people may think of you when working out;instead, crank up the volume and get lost in your own world. You’ll be in shape before you know it.

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    4. Bring a friend.

    Some people can’t go anywhere alone. While I highly recommend dining out and seeing a movie in a theater alone, having company while exercising is very helpful. It allows you to pace yourself with someone else, and gives you a coach to motivate and push harder than you may have on your own.

    Many exercises are safer when done with a friend, and some sports can only be played with another person. Involving others in your goals can mean the difference between success and failure. Just remember to continue exercising if the other person flakes, or they’ll be in control of your health.

    5. Accessorize.

    There are accessories that can make exercise easier, and sometimes buying a new toy can add some much-needed fun to your routine. With apps like RunKeeper and Nike+, your smartphone is capable of tracking your vitals and progress. Wrist weights can add a new dimension to your workout, and, if you exercise at night, a headlamp can help you see what’s in front of you so you don’t trip.

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    For urban runners and power-walkers, one of the biggest obstacles is other people. It’s difficult to get in your meditative zone and enjoy your music when you constantly have to dodge people. To resolve this vexing issue, Runbell, a startup in Tokyo, has developed the runner’s version of the bicycle bell. With this lightweight brass bell warning people you’re approaching from behind, you’re free to maintain your transcendental state while continuing your workout. Head to their Kickstarter campaign to pledge your support.

    6. Compete.

    A little healthy competition can motivate you to push yourself further in your workout regimen. There are apps like Zombies, Run! which turns your run into a video game, and MyFitnessPal which allows you to connect with others in the exercise community. Whether you’re directly competing with a friend, an online community, or against your previous self, setting goals is the key to reaching them. Running with no destination can feel like an impossible task, and it’s easy to get distracted.

    7. Relax.

    The best part about exercising is how much you enjoy the downtime. If you think laying on your couch all day is enjoyable, it has nothing on that hour you spend as a couch potato after a rigorous workout. Jay-Z said it best, “in order to experience joy, you need pain.” The harder you push yourself while exercising, the better you’ll feel when you’re relaxing.

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    With that said, don’t relax too much, or it loses the effect. It’s okay to indulge every so often. Treat yourself to some junk food you’re craving, imbibe a drink here and there, and spend a day vegging out on your couch. Staying healthy doesn’t have to be torture. Just turn down when you can and dedicate some time to better the health of your body. You only get one.

    Featured photo credit: tpsdave via pixabay.com

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