Monday, September 07, 2009

7 Tips To Turn Your Long Weekend Into A Staycation

"Are you an alien freak?" were the words that welcomed me into the first day of my "vacation." Those words didn't cling to the thumping party air as I danced into the wee hours on a costumed cruise or discotheque in Ibiza.


They were the spiky greeting from the TV producer in charge of the shoot. (Confirmation that my iPhone makes me sound like I am visiting from Pluto in certain areas.) Instead of taking a week to commune with nature I had journeyed into the unknown territory of Orange County to shoot a TV pilot called "Life Changers."

Vacations Are For Wimps
I was not alone in working through my time off. Almost 50 percent of small business owners take only major holidays off or take no vacation at all, according to a study by Big Research that surveyed 520 small-business owners. Kari Henley wrote a great post on why Americans are the worst vacationers. A study conducted in 2006 by the Department of Labor confirmed that workers get five days of paid leave after one year of service. Twenty three percent of Americans get no paid vacation. None. Recent studies show that due to fear of job loss even fewer Americans are taking any time off.

Burnt To A Crisp
There are numerous well-known studies that track how vacations keep us both mentally and physically healthy. The 1992 Framingham Heart Study conducted by Boston University showed that not taking vacations was particularly risky for women. It was a significant risk factor that contributed to heart disease. Vacations have have been shown to cure burnout which is the final stage of chronic stress. Humans need time away from stressors. That time away helps to replenish emotional resources. Taking a break leads to sense of mastery and optimism as well better job performance. "Studies have also shown that time off increases positive mood, a sense of initiative, competence, and that the more leisure activities you're involved in the higher your life satisfaction" say life balance expert, Joe Robinson.

I would love to wave my magic wand and give each and every one of us a month in the county, Perhaps if I really were an alien freak I could use my extraterrestrial powers and have all of America join in a playful recess for the month of August. Hmm. That doesn't seem too likely.

"Staycation" Nation
As I wave good-bye to summer, I realize how very precious and restorative a vacation is. So I decided to make my weekend into a "staycation". If you aren't taking a one, two or three week vacation, it is essential that you give yourself a weekend "staycation" at least once a quarter.

Here are a few tips from my weekend "staycation". I can't wait to hear yours!

1. Take A Vacation....From Your PDA
One of the fastest ways to unwind is to take a vacation from your PDA. As a culture we are accustomed to being "wired" all day every day. I put the phone in a kitchen drawer.

2. Is Your Name Martha?
Unless your name is Martha Stewart and you just love, love, love to organize drawers do not turn your "staycation" into a chore and errand festival. (I had a client whose hobby was ironing -so I know that those folks are out there!) If you know that you are more relaxed with a tidy home take the weekend before your weekend "staycation" to clean.

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