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Escape Your Job

Vacations are important business

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Escape Your Job

There are plenty of times when we feel like escaping work. Well, good news—it turns out taking that holiday is loaded with health benefits.

Between busy lunch breaks eating “al desko” and exhausting office politics, sometimes we just feel like leaving on a jet plane. Well, it’s okay to escape occasionally! It turns out there are abundant health benefits of taking a vacation ... and plenty of different ways to take one.

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Escape for your health

Research by the University of Waterloo shows that more than a third of full-time Canadian workers don’t take their full vacation time. That’s unfortunate, because they may be missing out on some really important benefits, including

  • decreased stress and better ability to cope with stressful situations
  • reduced cardiovascular disease risk
  • boosted family cohesion and communication (for vacationing families)
  • increased health and well-being and quality of life, generally

But, of course, these benefits aren’t permanent: one vacation won’t make us happier forever! That’s why it’s important to make escaping from our jobs—temporarily—a regular part of our year. Research suggests that even the anticipation of having a vacation planned can increase our happiness.

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Vacation inspiration

A tropical getaway doesn’t do the job for everyone. Why not go out on a limb and try some of these ideas?

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Take up a new hobby

Vacationing with a purpose can be extremely enriching. Consider taking an unusual cooking class (or learning how to photograph your culinary creations for Instagram), taking up rock climbing, joining a hiking club, or learning to play the trombone.

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Have a staycation

For fun sans jet lag, be a tourist in your own city: visit restaurants you’ve always wanted to try, linger in museums and art galleries, go to the theatre, attend summer concerts, and enjoy the outdoors—and be sure to check out local Canada 150 celebrations.

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Do a house swap

Live like a local by swapping houses with someone who lives abroad—it’s a great way to travel on a budget and have a unique experience.

Get away & unwind

Thanks to technology—email and smartphones—many employees end up working on vacations. Here are some ways to unplug.

Plan beforehand

Talk to your employer about expectations during vacation, and ensure there are plans to fill your shoes while you’re gone.

Pick and choose

If disconnecting altogether is not a possibility, consider making a list of who you will—and won’t—be in contact with. An email from your employer is likely much more important than an email from a friend in another department. As for social media, feel free to let that go completely.

Prepare others

Tell clients and coworkers when you’ll be away, and restate the information in your out-of-office message.

A mini vacation

Can’t get away? Give yourself a mental break with these tips that you can even implement at work.

Unplug after work

Employees who stay connected after work face greater stress and reduced concentration.

Go for a brisk walk

There’s nothing quite like fresh air and exercise to clear your head and reduce stress.

Practise meditation

Meditation doesn’t need to take a long time. Take one minute to practise some deep breathing, visualize something positive, count your breaths, or recite a calming mantra.

Give yourself a massage

Self-massage can be a quick, easy, inexpensive, and effective stress-relief technique. For tired eyes, gently massage the area around the eye socket; for headaches, massage the neck and forehead; and for sore wrists and hands, circle your wrists and massage your fingers and palms.

Eat lunch outside

Now that the weather is getting nicer, why not gather some co-workers and eat alfresco?

Chew a piece of (natural) gum

Strange but true—chewing gum can help calm us down in moments of stress, boosting our mood, improving our performance, and reducing our cortisol levels.

Eat a (mindful) snack

Try veggies and hummus, coconut water, Greek yogurt, fruit, or nuts. Eat mindfully, focusing on the scent, taste, and texture of the snack.

When a vacation isn’t enough

For those experiencing severe burnout or job dissatisfaction, a vacation just won’t cut it. That’s when many choose to switch companies or even career paths, even later in life. If you’re looking for a more fulfilling career, consider these next steps.

Research new careers

Search online for job postings, contact people in your network to set up informational interviews or coffee dates, and attend networking events.

Build your skill set

Take a course to update your credentials. If you’re not sure what you like, many introductory courses are offered at post-secondary institutions.

Go ahead—brag

Update your paper resume and online profiles. You may also want to consider putting together a portfolio of your work.

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