I feel like the next time I blink, it’s going to be January. The past year has been so crazy, I could use a whole month off to make sense of it all. Since I’m a freelance writer, I don’t get any official vacation days, but I am determined to take a few days off before the new year.
Time off isn’t just a chance to catch up on sleep and your favorite TV shows. Several studies have demonstrated that downtime is good for your physical and mental health, and can make you more focused, productive and creative. Sounds good, right?
Here’s how to make the most of your time off…
If there are things you have to do, get them done.
Been meaning to clean out your closet and donate your old clothes to charity? Instead of putting it off until the end of your vacation, do your sorting and organizing early, so the obligation doesn’t weigh on you. (If you have no place to store your holiday gifts, consider it a sign that it’s time to get rid of all the stuff you don’t need any more.)
Reconnect with people you love.
If you have family and friends nearby, make time to get together and catch up with them. If you’ve lost touch with loved ones who are farther away, send a card or letter, or schedule a Skype call. Think about who you want in your life in the coming year, and figure out how to make them a priority.
Take care of yourself.
It’s easy to eat and drink more than usual during the holidays, but a vacation is also the perfect time to make healthy changes to your routine. Instead of waiting until January 1st, make an effort to eat right and exercise now. Catch up on sleep and treat your body right, so you can start the new year feeling strong, focused, and full of energy.
Think about how things are going.
Find some quiet time alone to sit down with a notebook and take a few notes about what worked for you, and what didn’t, during the past year. Think about what you’d like to accomplish in the coming year, and outline specific steps that will move you toward those goals. Give yourself tasks and deadlines, and put them on your to-do list and in your schedule.
Plan ahead for the new year.
When you’re busy working, it can be hard to find time to look at the big picture. Take time now to open the calendar app on your phone (or a paper planner if you’re old-fashioned like me), and plan ahead as much as you can. Choosing your vacation dates way ahead of time will give you something to look forward to, and it might even help you find cheaper flights.
Take a vacation from technology, too.
If you’re constantly checking Instagram and Snapchat, or you catch yourself answering work email while you’re on vacation, treat yourself to a day free from technology. Instead of staring at various screens, do something that inspires you. Spend time in nature, or go somewhere you’ve never been before. Express your artistic side. Forget about likes and comments, and focus on being true to yourself.
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