Everyone needs a break sometimes, but for many Americans, vacation is just a daydream. Only 62 percent of American adults took a vacation away from home in 2017, down from 70 percent in 2001, a Gallup poll found. Even when Americans have opportunities to take vacations, they often don’t take it. A Kimble applications study found that 47 percent of Americans didn’t take their vacation time last year, and 21 percent left at least a full five-day week of vacation unused. Stress over deadlines, fear of upsetting their employer, mobile access to work and concerns about career disruption are some of the reasons Americans are reluctant to take vacations.
Even if you’re reluctant to take a vacation, taking a periodic break is vital for managing psychological stress as well as maintaining physical health. Fortunately, there are simple ways you can take a break to recharge, even without taking a full-fledged vacation. Here are four easy ways to treat yourself to a mini-break.
Have a Nice Meal
One simple way to relax is to treat yourself to a nice meal. If you can afford it, splurging for dinner at your favorite restaurant is an option, but if you’re on a budget, there are some less expensive alternatives. One option is to go to a fancy restaurant but order from the bar menu, which often has excellent food at lower prices, suggests The New York Times. Another alternative is go to a restaurant during lunchtime, when prices are lower, suggests Rachel Ray Every Day. Ordering from the bar also gives you more leeway to order a single plate at a time instead of a full meal. Research menus online before you go in order to plan your spending.
Another affordable option is treating yourself to something good to eat at home. If you know how to cook, you can make yourself a classy meal, or if you don’t, you can buy yourself a favorite snack, such as some fancy cheese and crackers. Of course, you’ll want something special to drink with your meal, such as a favorite wine or beer. To set the right mood for festive occasions, consider investing in some special wine or beer glasses in assorted sizes and shapes to remind yourself when it’s time to relax.
Take Yourself to a Movie
Nothing goes with a nice dinner like a good movie, which is another great way to treat yourself. Going out to the theater and buying your favorite snacks is one way to enjoy a film. If you’re budget-minded, consider going to a weekend matinee or watching one at home. These days there are plenty of home viewing options, from satellite to DVDs to streaming videos on a device. For instance, an Amazon Fire TV Cube can give you access to thousands of channels and over 500,000 movies and TV shows.
Read a Good Book
Another great way to relax is curling up with a favorite book. You can find thousands of free books from your local library. If there’s a special book you’re looking for, you can order a copy from an online bookseller. For certain books, especially older ones in the public domain, you may be able to find a digital copy on a site such as the Internet Archive or Project Gutenberg.
To really relax, you may find it enjoyable to close your eyes and listen to an audiobook. You can purchase audiobooks from commercial sites or find thousands of free ones on sites such as YouTube and Librivox.
Take a Relaxing Bath
There’s nothing quite like a long warm bath to drain away the stress of work. A simple bath can be relaxing, or if you really want to live it up, you can have a spa bath. While you may choose to go to an expensive spa, you can also give yourself a spa-like experience at home.
For a home spa experience, start by cleaning your tub and setting up a bathtub caddy where you can keep items such as soaps, candles, flowers and books. Set a relaxing mood with dimmed lighting or a candle and some soft music in the background. Establish a water temperature that’s comfortable for you. In general, it’s better to start warmer so you can add cool water if needed, rather than trying to warm up from a cool tub. Drain some water and add hot water periodically to maintain your desired temperature. Add a bath bomb or bubbles to enhance the experience.
A delicious meal, an engaging movie, a good book and a relaxing bath are four simple and inexpensive ways to give yourself a periodic treat. When you find yourself wanting to get away from the stress of work and wind down, consider these options for giving yourself a much-deserved break.