According to the report, approximately 462 million vacation days will go unused in 2017 for reasons ranging from budget to work commitments. Yet, the benefits of vacations are well-documented: taking time off can lead to improved productivity, stress reduction and even heart disease prevention.
If you’re one of the millions of people with a bank of unused vacation days, there are plenty of ways to decompress and recharge even if you don’t have the financial means or the flexibility in your schedule to take an extravagant vacation. Here are three that you can do in the comfort of your own home — for free! — any time you need a little R&R.
1. Create an in-home spa day.
Spas, amazing as they are, usually don’t come cheap. But believe it or not, you have all the tools at your disposal to re-create that amazing zen spa experience in your own bathroom.
Run a bubble bath and keep an extra towel handy to support your neck while you’re in the tub. Light a candle with a calming scent like lavender or jasmine, both of which are known for their soothing effects. Try creating a DIY face mask to detoxify the skin while the rest of your body relaxes. Dim the lights and cue up a playlist with calming tunes (Spotify and Pandora have lots of options). And finally, put your phone on Do Not Disturb — it’s impossible to truly relax when you’re inundated with buzzes and dings signifying texts and emails are waiting. Close your eyes and imagine you’re in a spa in an exotic destination of your choice, and repeat whenever you need to re-create that vacation experience.
2. Meditate, meditate, meditate.
When you picture meditation, do you think of a Buddhist monk sitting atop a peaceful mountaintop in a perfect lotus position, Om-ing for hours? Well, meditation can be way less intense--and a lot less time-consuming--than that.
Scientific benefits of meditation include stress reduction, anxiety relief and sleep improvement — all elements that are often associated with vacations. If you’re a beginner, starting with a just a few minutes of meditation per day can be hugely effective. Try an app like Meditation Studio, Calm, or Headspace and do a short meditation (five minutes or less). Pick a time of day, like when you first wake up, when you know you won’t be distracted and will actually remember to do it. If you’re digging it, stay with the shorter meditations for a while until you feel ready to upgrade to a longer session. Rinse, repeat and be relaxed.
3. Challenge yourself to go tech-free for a day.
The tiny computers we carry around with us — also known as our phones — can be helpful in many instances, but they can also be incredibly distracting and all-consuming. When you’re in need of a mental break, try disconnecting for a set period of time — maybe even a full day. Let loved ones know you’re going off the grid so they’re aware they won’t be able to get in touch with you, and put your phone on airplane mode — or better yet, turn it off completely.
Use your newfound tech freedom to read a book, go for a hike or even be a tourist in your own city — anything you’ve been meaning to do but somehow haven’t been able to carve out the time to do so. The emails, calls and texts will all be there when you re-emerge from your tech hiatus, and you’ll be more relaxed when you re-engage.
Finding time to recharge doesn’t have to include a pricey trip. With these tips, you can easily squeeze some R&R into an evening or weekend without having to set foot outside your home.
Kaitlin Bitting is a public relations pro and a certified health & wellness coach. She's passionate about helping people find the motivation to create lasting, positive change in their lives, whether personal or professional. Learn more at kaitlinbitting.com.