Stress related symptoms bring many individuals into my office seeking assistance.
Some present with chronic headaches, stomach aches, insomnia, feeling “stressed,” racing thoughts, and a lack of energy, or general malaise. Some enjoy the work they do, some do not, and some are looking for work.
One factor that many of these individuals have in common is a lack of what we now refer to as “down time” – many of these individuals have a difficult time taking time off from work. The number of unused vacation days seems to be on the rise in America – we have a very difficult time taking time off and “getting away.”
The ability to “turn off” has become more and more difficult, as our computers, and smartphones make us available 24/7. However, just because one can be available 24/7 does not mean that one should be available 24/7. In fact, the importance of “down time,” in preventing work and life “Burn Out” cannot be emphasized enough.
“Staycations” are on the rise, as they are ways of taking a vacation from work, staying in your place of residence, and taking advantage of all that your place of residence has to offer. This has become a less expensive alternative to family time together, with each member of the family choosing an activity. There is the obvious financial benefit of no hotel costs, plane fares, however, it can sometimes be challenging to act as if you are out of town, when you are not.
“Workcations” are also on the rise, as they are a way of combining work with a change in location. With a “workcation”, you still work an 8-10 hour day, however, you work remotely or from a vacation destination. Many in the business world report returning to their work place refreshed and it is as if they had taken a vacation without the cost, or taking the days.
No matter how you chose to spend time away from work, it is important to try to do it. Of course, much depends on your job, your status, and legitimate, or not legitimate concerns about job security. If you are going to spend your entire vacation worrying, the vacation, and time away, may defeat the purpose.
It is important that you figure out how to take a vacation – even if it is a “mentalcation” – practicing mindfulness, deep breathing, visual relaxation, meditation, or taking a 10 minute walk, or break. Medication can also help, but it does not teach how to reduce stress. It might help reduce the stress so you are able to learn or practice other stress-reducing techniques. Cognitive behavioral therapy can also help with stress reduction. It is important for you to learn how to relax – and reduce stress. If you do not learn to take time for yourself – your body will do it for you.