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March 23, 2022

Five healthy ways to use your PTO when you can’t travel

Mental Health Vacation

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After living through a pandemic for the last two years, we’ve all learned that taking a vacation doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going on vacation.

But taking a break from work is very important for your mental health. Paid time off (PTO) can help you disconnect from the stresses of your daily routine and rejuvenate so you return to work feeling your best. Even if you don’t leave the confines of your hometown, here are five healthy ways you can use those precious days.

1. Drop the devices

If you’re taking PTO, the first thing you should do is step away from the computer and put down your smartphone — even after work hours! Screen time affects your quality of sleep and strains your eyes, while social media is known to impact mental health. A day or two off from the technology will feel like a vacation on its own.

2. Enjoy a “staycation”

Sometimes, you need to just “do you.” A few days of downtime can go a long way in helping you relax, and that’s something you can do right in the comfort of your own home. Watch a movie in the middle of the day, make a healthy, home-cooked meal using fresh ingredients, or spend an hour just soaking in the tub reading a good book. If you’re feeling productive, spend an afternoon rearranging a room or organizing a messy storage closet. You’ll reap the benefits of making meaningful changes to your home long past your vacation.

3. Get outside

There are few things healthier than a day spent outdoors. Use the opportunity to do something new, like a walking tour of your hometown or a trek on foot to a far-flung neighborhood you never visit for a picnic. The vitamin D your body receives from sunshine is important to your health, as are the benefits you’ll receive from a day of walking.

4. Take up a (healthy) new hobby

Consider all the talents and skills you wish you had. PTO can be the perfect excuse to take up that hobby that the demands of daily life have stopped you from pursuing. Maybe you always considered running, swimming, or biking. Perhaps you want to start gardening, learn a new language, or perfect your favorite recipe. Now’s the time to give it a try. Every new skill you learn will stick with you long after your time off comes to an end.

5. Catch up with friends

Just because you’re not getting on an airplane and scoping out an exotic location doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. Whatever way you decide to spend your PTO, do it with friends! The last two years have been long for everyone, so your social group is likely in need of some time off, too. Spending time with friends can yield significant health benefits, including a boost in happiness and self-confidence. Friends can also help you cope with life’s struggles and provide encouragement when you need it most.

It’s important to get the most out of your PTO no matter what you do, especially if you can’t travel. With a little bit of planning, local vacation days can feel just as rewarding as a trip anywhere in the world — and they’re always within reach.

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