This story was originally published in November 2018.
You’re a nurse, and the combination of job, shift work, and family obligations can be stressful.
Maybe the best medicine you can prescribe for yourself is to pack a bag and leave your troubles behind.
Research is on your side. Studies have found that taking time away from the job can be good for your physical and psychological health. Getaways also are thought to lower stress, reduce the risk of heart disease, inspire a better outlook on life and motivate you to meet your goals.
With all that in mind, here are tips for a successful vacation.
10 tips for taking a stress-free vacation, or how to avoid feeling you need a vacation after your vacation.
1. Commit to taking a vacation and don’t feel guilty about leaving your work for others to do or for you to do when you return. Some people believe that, if you’re interested in reducing your stress, then you should take a vacation quarterly or at least once every six months. This may take off the pressure of trying to make it a “truly great” getaway. Too many of us don’t use our vacation time, thinking that makes us appear more hard-working and indispensable. But the truth is you are likely to work better if you’ve taken time to relax and rejuvenate.
2. Know the purpose of your vacation. Is it rest and relaxation? Adventure? Seeing certain sites? Pure pampering? Knowing your objectives and goals can help you prioritize how you spend your time and money.
3. Do your research ahead of time about your destination. Look into all issues that might come up – everything from available public transportation, private transportation options, restaurants and their dress codes, and visa or passport requirements.
4. Don’t take your work with you. Schedule your vacation well in advance and block those dates as “out of office.” You can hit the ground running when you return. If you can’t completely escape work, set aside a certain time – and small amount of time – each day to handle your work. Then you need to leave it behind and enjoy being on vacation.
5. Head to an underrated vacation destination. Long lines and crowds may be what you’re facing if you visit a popular destination in prime tourist season. Hidden gems often prove priceless.
6. Consider making it a real getaway – one that takes you out of the rat race for 10 days. You’re away long enough that you’re forced to leave your work duties to someone else. Mix a trip of this length with a couple of three-day getaways and the occasional long weekend trip and you may find that oh-so-stressful job isn’t bugging you like it has.
7. Eat well but also use this time to feed your relationship. You could be traveling with your mate, significant other, child or best friend. Go into the vacation with the expectation that you’re going to have fun and that you and your traveling companion will be making memories that could last a lifetime.
8. Pack your bag a week in advance so you’re not scrambling, forgetting things and stressing out. This also gives you time to think of other things you may need to add to your bag that could be vital to making it that truly memorable time.
9. Disconnect from technology. Free yourself from the digital stress by turning off your tablet, Wi-Fi and social media. Consider memorializing the trip with pictures taken with a real camera, not your cell
10. Incorporate some physical activity. While laying by the pool may be fun for part of your vacation, think of the benefits and adventures you can have by incorporating physical activity into your vacation. Consider taking a hike for your body and your overall well-being.
How to be the houseguest everybody welcomes back
1. Don’t come empty-handed. A gift of food, flowers, wine or entertaining supplies should come in the door with you. Fresh baked goods, such as a pie or cake, work well, as do luxury scented candles.
2. Keep the bathroom clean and its counters clean. Others may need to use this bathroom as well, so make it just as inviting for them as it was for you. Keep your hair products, toothbrush, toothpaste, and other toiletries in your bedroom. Ask the hostess where to hang your wet towels. Remove any soap scum or hair from the shower drain, and facial hair should be rinsed down the drain or put in the trash.
3. Assist with the household chores. Yes, you are a guest, but you can’t expect to be served. You are not in a hotel or restaurant. Your host will appreciate it if you clear plates from the table, take out the trash, empty the dishwasher and strip the bed when you leave. Do something unexpected like having the coffee ready when the host or hostess comes to the kitchen to start the day.
4. Have specific arrival and departure dates and stick to them. Your hosts are doing you a huge favor. Don’t test the limits of your friendship by showing up early or extending your stay at the last minute.
5. Be gracious and grateful. Don’t grumble if you are used to bacon and eggs and they offer you toast and coffee or cereal. Maybe they use skim milk in their coffee, and you are used to flavored cream or Half-and-Half. If it’s too hard to take, invite them out to breakfast. Say thank-you after every meal that your host prepares.
6. Budget for one night on the town that’s your treat. It’s an acknowledgement again that you appreciate your hosts.
7. Don’t overstay your welcome. People may be welcoming and sincerely want to extend hospitality to you. But you don’t want to appear to be taking advantage of them or staying until you run out of things to say.
8. Don’t leave anything behind. Your host or hostess isn’t prepared to run a lost-and-found. You should do a final inspection of the bath and bedroom for stray items as you would leaving a motel.
9. Send a thank you note. Go the extra mile of mentioning some of your favorite memories from the visit. Got a cute photo from your trip? Print it out and send it along.
10. Return the favor. Let your hosts know that they have an open invitation to stay with you if they’re ever in your area. Even make a suggestion or two, if you can. If the hostess loves cross-stitch, let her know about an arts and crafts fair in your area that might offer plenty of treasures.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.