Here we are, just past the middle of summer.  Tis the time of year many of us go on vacation.  Ahhhh, vacation.  Something we look forward to, plan for and possibly lose sleep over as we excitedly anticipate what adventure may ensue or the mere idea of sitting back and letting go of our everyday lives.   The whole purpose of vacation is to do something different.  To relax.  To rejuvenate.

But what happens when it is all over?  Have you ever caught yourself thinking or saying, “I need a vacation from my vacation!”

Believe it or not, the time we take away from our everyday lives can create even more stress for people.  Think about it…we are creatures of habit.  We function at our best when get regular sleep, food and engage in a similar routine day-to-day and week-to-week.  Whenever we disrupt this cycle, we throw our systems out of balance which can lead to feeling worn out, possibly a bit let down or even depressed…feeling like we need a vacation from our vacation!  So how can we get the most out of our time away AND feel refreshed, ready to return to real life

Things to Do Before Your Vacation:

Tie up loose ends at work. To make re-entry a little easier, finish up your tasks, projects, whatever it is you need to do so that when you return to work you don’t feel overwhelmed by what you left behind and what you have next to tackle.

Start packing a few days before you leave. Do not leave this task to the last minute or even the night before you head out on your trip.  To keep things organized and unrushed, make a list of the things you know you need and want to bring with you on vacation.  Check those items off as you make progress toward zipping up your suitcase and loading it in the car.  This will help calm that nagging feeling that you forgot something.

Clean your house or at least change your bed linens and make your bed. There is nothing better than coming home to a clean house or at least a clean bed to sleep in.

Things to do During Your Vacation:

Maintain some aspect of your usual routine. If you are used to going for a morning walk everyday, then keep walking.  If you usually take a hot bath before bed, then keep soaking.  Simple activities like this will help you feel like you have not completely fallen off your path and will make it easier to slide back into your normal schedule at home.

Drink water and eat a balanced diet. It is really easy to get dehydrated and experience stomach upsets while traveling.  Always keep a water bottle with you, whether you are going by car, plane, boat or hoof.  Dehydration leads to fatigue and stresses out your body.  The point of vacation is to de-stress, right?  It is also really important to continue to eat at least some aspect of your normal diet.

Of course you will to treat yourself to the delicacies your destination offers, that is part of the fun of being on vacation, just be sure that you also get your fiber, protein and veggies in…I promise you, your gut will be so much happier!  This will also help you avoid gaining extra pounds while away from home.   Depending on where you go, you may consider taking a probiotic or temporarily increasing your usual dose.  Again, your gut will thank you.

Get your sleep! This may not be an issue for some.  However, it is very common for people to have difficulty sleeping in any other bed than their own.  To help you feel more at home while you are away bring your favorite pillow or a blanket with you and do your best to engage in your normal bedtime routine.   It is also super important to try to maintain as close to your normal hours of sleep.

Have an amazing time. Focus on your vacation.  Take lots of pictures and videos.  Take some time to do a little journaling each day you are away.  These things will help you remember everything wonderful about your vacation.

Things to do After Your Vacation:

Unpack, do laundry and take a shower! Do not let your luggage sit for days or weeks.  You will just overwhelm yourself later every time you look at your bag(s) and say to yourself, “I’ll get to it…tomorrow.”  Unpacking and getting your belongings cleaned up and put away can be cathartic.  Just as you went through a ritual of preparation, engage in a ritual of “winding down.”  This may be a great time to reminisce about your vacation, especially if you loaded up your suitcase with souvenirs.

Get some rest. Maybe this should have been a part of things to do before your leave, but it might make sense to schedule your vacation so that you have a day or two at home prior to returning to work.  This will allow you to catch up on sleep or reset your clock if needed and give you time to mentally prepare for first day back.  By then, you may actually be antsy to return to your usual routine.

Review your photos and videos and share them with others. Make a scrapbook or collage.  Print out your favorite shots and get them framed.  You gathered a bunch of memories you want to hold on to for as long as possible.  Vacations are meant to enrich your life experience.  Honor this time.  Honor yourself.  Find a way to memorialize the moments that hopefully touched your soul.

Plan your next vacation!