Summer disconnect: To rejuvenate, go offline while vacationing

During vacation, leave work at the office. Although even a short break can be rejuvenating, significant de-stressing may take several days “just to get ourselves used to the idea of relaxing,” says a professor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Being “on-call” via phone and email during times set aside to get away from work and from your normal everyday schedule is being on edge, which can detract from allowing your mind to have a break in order to de-stress and recharge, says Dr. Munro Cullum, a neuropsychologist.

“Getting away for a vacation allows us time to simply play and leave the ‘baggage’ behind,” he says. “More and more we are flooded with information in ever-increasing quantities, with more ‘to-do’ lists, more to keep in mind and more things to remember – such as passwords, computer procedures, day planners, appointments, cellphones, email – not to mention the everyday demands of life in today’s busy society. These things add up to stress.”

Dr. Cullum adds that this informational demand may be compounded by economic or personal worries. “We hear so much negative news these days that we can get caught up in negative thought patterns, which may contribute to our own anxieties and concerns about the future.”

Some level of stress can help us keep going and hasten projects and accomplishments. If stress becomes too much, however, it also can result in negative physiological reactions that can lead to illness. Exercise, a healthful diet and adequate sleep are important, of course, but “we also need some down time, to allow our brains to work ‘offline,’” Dr. Cullum says.

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/mentalhealth to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in mental health.

Media Contact: LaKisha Ladson

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