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Get the Most out of Summer Holidays

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Summer is usually associated with fun in the sun, outdoor activities, and total relaxation. For most of us, it also happens to be vacation time. So before you head out, here are a few ideas and tips to help you get the most out of the summer season.

Why take vacations?

Are vacations really necessary? The answer might seem obvious, but nearly a third of all Canadians don't take all their available vacation time. They also don't realize the immediate and longer term impacts this can have.

No matter what you do for a living, work requires energy and concentration. When we're tired, our bodies run on borrowed energy and we're not usually aware of what that can mean for our overall health. Over the long term, if we don't disconnect from work every now and then, we risk burning out.

Simply taking a vacation has many benefits. It allows our bodies – and our minds – to relax and reenergize. Which in turn allows us to enjoy ourselves, to spend time with family and friends, and to find our old selves again.

The benefits continue even after we go back to work. We tend to be in better spirits for one thing. And being physically out of the workplace gives us more objectivity, so we're better able to manage any situations that do come up once we're back.

Vacations also give us the time – and the freedom – to deal with all those things that we've been putting on the back burner. The bonus is the peace of mind that comes with finally having accomplished those tasks.

If you're nervous about being away for more than a week or if it's simply not convenient, arrange to divide up your vacation in a way that suits you better. Some people need a minimum of two weeks to really disengage from work, while others prefer to spread the days out so they're off more but for shorter periods. What's important is to know what you need, and to plan vacations that will meet those needs.

How to get the most out of our vacations

Despite the amount of time we spend dreaming about our holidays, do we really get the maximum benefit? Most of us know what it feels like to come back from a vacation or a few days off feeling just as tired as when we left. Even on holiday, minor cares and concerns can sap our energy, cancelling out the hoped-for benefits of being away. The recommendations that follow are designed to help you disconnect so you can get the max out of your holidays:

And for those who either have no vacation time this summer…or just a few days off…

You don't need tons of time to disconnect from work. In fact, evenings and weekends give you lots of opportunity to enjoy the summer season and its many pleasures.

Just taking a break from your daily routine, trying new activities, or going somewhere you've never been before are great ways to leave the office behind and recharge the batteries. So whether you take your vacation now or later, whether you have a couple of weeks or a couple of days, make the most of it, and have a great time!

This issue of SourceLines was written by Dr. Martine Gaudreau, Psychologist, with Les Consultants Longpré & Associés inc. an associate agency in Quebec.