Tips 96-100: If You're Reading This on Memorial Day, It's Time to Plan a Vacation!

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Plan Your Vacation At Least Three Months In Advance And Take All Of It

Vacations are as important to your health as watching your cholesterol and getting exercise. An annual vacation can cut the risk of heart attack in men by 30 percent and, in women who take more than one holiday a year, by 50 percent. Studies also show that vacations cure burnout, increase positive mood and boost productivity when you return. If you don't take vacations seriously and plan ahead, they either don't happen or you wind up with a last-minute substitute, like puttering around the house. Start planning at least three months in advance. Do your homework, and you'll have a chance to craft the best times of your life.


Set Rules For E-mail use

The average corporate user gets 133 e-mails a day, according to research firm The Radicati Group. That adds up to 100 days a year doing nothing but reading and answering e-mail. The problem is that electronic messaging is unbounded. We just let it avalanche without any restraints. For optimal performance and a lot less stress and fewer interruptions, you have to set the rules of engagement. Create a list of interruption management rules that include manual checking of all messages at set times, limited reply-all mail, resisting the temptation to send unless it's important, and no e-mail on weekends.


Get Out Of Denial

The bravado workplace makes you think it's wimpy to admit you're stressed. The reality is that real wimpiness comes from not admitting it, because what happens when you don't deal with stress or communicate about it is that you think about it. You ruminate, which is the worst thing possible, since that's what accelerates the stress spiral and the catastrophic thoughts that come with it. Listen to your body for the stress signals--fatigue, insomnia, irritability, anxiety, lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, neck pain, back pain, irritable bowel syndrome. And then find out what's causing the stress--and resolve it.


Think Of Yourself As An IPod

After three straight hours working on a task, the brain has reached its limit, and you have to get off task to recharge your mental batteries, researchers say. We're no different than cell phones or iPods. Take two 10- to 15-minute breaks in the morning and two in the afternoon to recharge yourself. Use the time to get away from the work mind and tap in to things you enjoy. Listen to a favorite album or inspirational podcast. Plan your weekend. Breaks interrupt stressors and rejuvenate harried brain cells. Consider these pauses in the onslaught opportunities to pump up your day and prevent repetitive motion injuries and mental brown-outs.


Don't Buy Work Guilt

Work guilt is another stressor you don't need. It's not even real guilt in the first place. You haven't punched anyone in the face or poured coffee on someone's keyboard. Psychologists call work guilt unreal guilt. It's just a projected anxiety foisted on you by what you think others think you "should" be doing. You can opt out of guilt by not following what the manipulators want and making the decision yourself. Now you're in charge, not the "shoulds" in your head. If your family wants you to join them for an outing on the weekend, but you feel guilty not working, tell yourself that you'd rather work but your family needs you, so you're going to skip the office. You won't feel resentful this way. If you decide it's critical that you work, find the reason why, and if it's an important situation and you make that choice for that reason, you won't feel the guilt. Make a conscious choice, and you can opt out of this unnecessary stressor.

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