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Your Vacation Rx, Part 2: What To Do?
 
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By Hannah Woit

What’s your ideal vacation? Camping in a forest, waking up with the sunrise? Checking off a long list of must-see destinations? Spending some serious time on a beach chair, doing little else?

How does your choice of vacation type impact your health? Although many of us may only link vacations and wellbeing in the context of spas or yoga retreats, what we do on our time off has very real implications for our health--including some you might not expect.

What’s on the itinerary?

Researchers have discovered that vacation and more and better quality hours of sleep are a boon for your health, so take advantage of the extra z’s! If you’re someone who has trouble sleeping in unfamiliar places, bring a travel size of your favorite scented candle or your pillow from home. Also, if you are a light sleeper, pack some earplugs and a sleep mask--and opt for more glamping over camping.

Make sure there are also opportunities for pleasure and savoring your experiences, as these are not only effective during vacation, but also the aftereffect.

And you don’t need to feel guilty about skipping your regular workout if that’s what you need to do to relax to the max. Researchers have found that physical activity doesn’t impact your overall health and wellbeing during vacation or after it.

Activities that researchers have identified an associated between higher degrees of relaxation and psychological detachment from work and greater enjoyment of what you do on vacation with having a positive impact on wellbeing even after coming home.

A working vacation?

If you’re one of those people who checks their email while on vacation and say it will make the transition back to work easier because less work will have accumulated, you may want to think twice about that, as working while you’re supposed to be off can hinder your sense of wellbeing some research indicates, even after you get back to your desk. However, experts disagree on this one, so if you like staying on top of things while you’re away, it may not impact your wellbeing, but be very mindful of your emotions and mood before and after working on vacation.

If you want to take a social media respite as well, here are some creative posts we’ve designed for you to put up to alert your followers so they don’t think you’ve fallen off the face of the earth.

Who’s coming?

Although social activities are generally a healthful addition to your vacation, so is  generally relaxing, so think twice about who you bring with you, researchers say. Other experts explain that your stress level and feelings about your travel companions are the top factors in determining your health and happiness on vaca. If you’re traveling with a challenging crew, keep in mind that you may need another vacation after your vacation (or at least a few free days at home to decompress before heading to the office).

Bon voyage!

 
Your Social Media Rx
 
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By Hannah Woit

Do you feel more chipper after a few minutes on Facebook? More inspired after scrolling Instagram? Pepped up by Twitter? Have you ever actually paused to see how you feel after spending some time on social media channels? Maybe, maybe not.

It’s worth spending a moment to check in with yourself to see how you feel the next time you log off. There’s a lot of noise these days about how social media and screen time affects our wellbeing. Some point to reasons to be concerned about social media use, but the effect of it on wellness is unclear. Researchers in Austria found that while people tend to expect that Facebook will boost their mood, the more time they spend on it, they worse they feel. They chalked it up to users’ feeling as if they had wasted time. Another study indicated that Facebook can trigger envy that causes depressive feelings.

You can have a healthy approach to social media though: the same research team found that if you don’t experience Facebook-induced envy, the social media site can actually improve your mood.

The types of social media you use and how you use them also matter. Pew research found that women who use Twitter in particular multiple times, exchange 25 emails, and send two photos on their cell phones each day are 21% less stressed than women who don’t use Twitter, email, or share photos. They also found that people who are on social are more aware of the events going on in their connections’ lives, but when the events are distressing, that can make users more stressed.

You can detox your social media feeds by unfollowing or unfriending people who don’t lift you up, but if you find yourself scrolling away mindlessly on Instagram or walking away from Facebook thinking about all of the life milestones you haven’t achieved, a full-on social media break might be in order.

If the thought of being out of touch with your friends and followers for a noticeable amount of time makes you uneasy or you’re afraid of appearing unresponsive, give them a heads up. That doesn’t mean you have to mass message everyone--just change your profile photo or add a post with an image that functions like the social media equivalent of an “out of office” email. Try the one at the top of the post to get started. Enjoy!