THE INC. LIFE

Do 1 Of These 3 Things To Get All The Benefits of A Vacation Without Taking A Day Off

Vacation is a state of mind.

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BY Rohini Venkatraman - 11 Jul 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

If you work at a smaller company, lead it, and (or) only had one day off for Independence Day, you're probably in dire need of a vacation, but may not know if and when you can take it. If none of the above are true, you're probably still in dire need of a vacation. A vacation is not just a luxury. Research has shown that vacations reduce our stress and improve our productivity. The good news is that you don't need to refinance your mortgage and miss a month of work to get the benefits of a vacation. Here are three things you can do before the end of the week to feel like you've had a vacation.

1. Stop at a park on your way home

Vacations, especially vacations during the summertime, typically take us somewhere outdoors. We surround ourselves by nature and enjoy the fact that wifi is spotty and, even if we wanted to check our email, we wouldn't be able to. There are benefits to greenery beyond being a wifi deadzone. One longitudinal study has shown that people living in greener areas have significantly better mental health, suggesting that greenery has long-lasting benefits.

Even if you can't camp out in the wilderness for a week, choose one day a week to stop at a park on your way home from work. Admire the greenery and breathe in the scent of the outdoors.

2. Try something new

The best part about vacations is that they inherently take us out of our routines and comfort zones. Whether it's a cooking class in Spain or a hike through the Grand Canyon, we find ourselves using our minds and bodies in ways that are atypical--and we feel pretty happy doing it. This isn't coincidence. One study has shown that we can permanently increase our happiness by creating intentional changes in our routine activities. Notably, a change of environment isn't necessary.

Whether it's a new workout class or a improving upon a skill you admire in a colleague, spend one hour learning something new this week. No matter how good or bad you turn out to be, you'll definitely come away a little happier.

3. Schedule free time for spontaneity

The best vacations are the ones without structure. Even if you have an idea of museums you want to visit or things you want to eat, you probably don't have a set schedule the way you do at work. Spontaneity is a crucial part of creative problem-solving. In one experiment, researchers found that people were more likely to get to an acceptable "aha" moment when it came to them spontaneously versus when they attempted a more analytical problem-solving method.

If you're struggling with a problem, resist the urge to glue yourself to your desk until you've found an answer. Instead, pack up and go wherever your whim takes you--to a coffee shop, a museum, or your couch. Chances are, the answer will strike you when you least expect it.

While nothing beats taking a real vacation, vacation days (and money) is not always easy to come by. But that doesn't need to keep you from soaking in all its benefits. So what are you waiting for? Switch off your device--your vacation awaits!