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Vacation

The majority of Americans take a staycation. Here’s how to do it right

During the summer months, offices empty out as employees seek out well-deserved rest from the drudgery of work. But while some of us may be flying off to exotic locales, the majority of us are not leaving our zip code. That’s what new data from YouGov Omnibus found when the research service polled over 10,000 Americans about their summer vacation habits. More than half — 53% — of Americans reported that they had taken a “staycation,” or chosen to stay in their same city for a vacation.

Although a staycation may not sound as luxurious as a getaway, it’s still a privilege to take one at all. Forty-one percent of employees said they felt guilty or had been shamed for taking one. It’s time for us all to get over this guilt and take vacations however we can because they are a proven benefit to employees and employers. The employees who take time off are the ones who earn the top performance reviews, one study found. Here’s how to achieve the rejuvenating effects of a vacation even when you do not leave town:

Leave your phone behind

A staycation begins by disconnecting yourself from work. Delete the Slack app from your phone, create an out-of-office email reminder, and do whatever you can to let your colleagues know that even if you are physically nearby, you are mentally checked out.

Stopping yourself from scrolling through your devices can help you, because looking at technology can undo your vacation benefits. When you look at your email on vacation, you are less able to remember what exactly you did on your holiday. The simple act of unplugging can make a big difference in your perspective when you return back to the office. A 2012 study found that employees who “psychologically detach” from work are more satisfied with life and return to their jobs more engaged.

Go outside into nature

Even if you do not leave town, you can still go beyond the familiar walls of your home and get a change of scenery. Nature is a proven way for us to get relaxation benefits. It does not take too many trees for nature’s spell to take effect. A 30-minute walk in the woods has led to lower blood pressure and stress levels in Japan.

Do your version of relaxation

Each of us has a different definition of what time well spent on vacation means. For some of us, it means exploring new cuisines or catching a theater performance or spending time with our loved ones. In one survey of 1500 U.K. people, one in ten people over 65 said that tasting new foods and drinks was the most enjoyable part of their holiday break. For some of us, we do not even have to leave our couch to achieve a vacation state of mind. Finding “me time” to watch our favorite movies at home is enough.

Take advantage of the fact that a staycation can help you get into relaxation mode sooner. One of the benefits of a staycation is that you do not have to deal with the stress of faraway travel logistics. As my colleague Meredith Lepore, who recently took a staycation of her own, put it: “Being able to walk to my destination with only one small overnight bag was utterly delightful compared to the hell I put myself through when I overpack.”

The point of a vacation is to take time off to reflect and enjoy the parts of yourself that are not tied to work. Staycations remind us that we do not need fancy activities and faraway getaways to do this.

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