Making your vacation work for you: the 4 R’s

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Labor Day is often seen as the unofficial end of summer, the last chance to spend time with family and friends before school shifts into full gear and autumn sweeps in.

While the three-day weekend doesn’t afford as much time as a full summer vacation, it can still provide valuable time for a mental reset that can be beneficial to you both personally and professionally.

Getting away from your home and your daily routine and responsibilities provides a needed mental break necessary to rejuvenate and re-energize.

The Four R’s

Rest

Try to schedule your vacation activities in a way that allows you to get some rest. Many of us schedule our vacations so tightly that we have to stay up late the night before we leave to do laundry, clean house, and pack, making us exhausted before we even leave!

We then are so busy and frantic during the vacation itself that we become more tired.

And we also leave the little margin at the end to catch up from being gone. So try this: plan some days to sleep in, maybe take naps and schedule in free time.

Refresh

Do you know what is mentally and emotionally refreshing to you? For me, it’s nature. I haven’t truly been on vacation if I’m not able to spend some time in nature.

For others, it is being pampered: eating out, going to a spa, or staying at a nice hotel. Some people are refreshed by visual beauty, others by learning about new places, history or culture.

Young parents (both dads, but especially moms) need some time alone for refreshment even if it is just one day (or several hours!). Identify what renews your spirit and schedule some of this type of activity into your vacation.

Reflect

Being away from your daily routine, responsibilities, and environment can provide the mental space needed to reflect on your life. Is this how you want to live? What changes would you like to make so your daily life more closely reflects your true values? Is your current pathway leading you to your goals (personally, professionally, relationally, health-wise)?

Schedule some time to be by yourself, reflect, and write down your thoughts.

Relationships

For many, vacation is a time of renewing and deepening important relationships. Families on vacation together have the opportunity to spend longer time periods together.

When used correctly — that is, talking or experiencing unique activities together, versus each person listening to their own iPod or playing video games.

Vacations can be a significant time in a family’s life. For individuals who are not currently in a significant relationship, vacations can be utilized to deepen friendships by going on vacations with friends or by visiting family members.

There are obviously other ways to make your vacation work for you, giving you a sense of relaxation and refreshment we all desire from our vacations. But ultimately, the best way to benefit from taking a vacation is to just go do it.

This article first appeared on Appreciation Blog.