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It’s time for a break: 5 tips for vacationing during COVID-19

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The word “vacation” comes from the Latin meaning “exemption from service, respite from work” and traces back to the verb vacare: “to be empty, be free, have leisure.” Only modern interpretations have connected the concept of vacation with travel. And yet, this connection is strong.  

Many of us have canceled travel plans because of the pandemic — and have returned planned vacation days. While doing so seems intuitive, it’s not the best choice. Your body and brain still need a break; in fact, you may be in desperate need of self-care. The increased stress of working during COVID-19 can negatively impact health, well-being and work-life integration. If you’re working from home, it can be hard to feel like you’ve gotten away from your job when you’ve moved from the table to the couch; if you’re an essential, on-site worker, the demands of your position have likely grown.

It’s time to harken back to the roots of “vacation”! We all need a break that frees our mind from contemplating the pandemic, work duties, cabin fever, the news and isolation — or lack of personal time. Here are tips for planning your well-deserved R&R.

1. Embrace the staycation

The key to a successful staycation is to log off completely: That means no work, no news and (if you can handle it) no phone. Read, watch movies, rekindle an old hobby, tackle a bucket-list item or immerse yourself in a home project you have been putting off — whatever fills you with energy, contentment and perspective. Do anything but work. Don’t even think about work! 

2. Plan to stay in your own space

If you need to get out of the house, explore your surroundings in an informed way by choosing socially distanced activities, such as camping, hiking, fishing or relaxing in a vacation home or RV. Stay away from crowds, even if you’re outside. (Midweek vacation days may make this easier.) Avoid contact with people outside your immediate family.

3. Be health-conscious

Don’t go out if you’re feeling sick or with anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. If you must reserve a campsite or activity, review cancellation policies closely so that you won’t lose out if you need to cancel. While you’re outside the house, wash your hands frequently, bring a sanitizing/cleaning kit, physical distance, avoid public indoor spaces and crowds, and pack extra masks. 

4. Stay local

Most of us are fortunate to live within an easy drive of a beach, park or city. Consider an urban walk, nature hike, bike ride, swimming hole, or relaxing drive. Explore the lesser-known parts of your neighborhood or the state. 

5. Plan ahead

Spontaneous getaways are typically fun, but during the pandemic, you’ll thank yourself for planning ahead. If you’re planning to get out into the wilderness, here are some sites that can help:

Thank you to Sandy M. Batchelor, WorkLife and wellness coordinator, UC Davis, for sharing her original article upon which this post is based.

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