I hear a lot of people commenting that they wish they hadn't indulged so much on their holiday or that they need a vacation after their vacation.

It's essential to your self-care and wellness that you DO take holidays, have a break from your regular routine and recharge your batteries. But this kind of unstructured time – whether it's one Sunday or a three-week holiday - presents unique challenges to your self-care.

Here are some clues that you might be taking a holiday from your self-care when you have time off.

1. Clutter and mess are starting to take over, but you tell yourself you're on holiday so you shouldn't have to clean up or worry about it. You don't know what day it is and things are piling up, undone.

2. You're worried about the work that's waiting for you when you return.

3. Getting where you're going on time – either around the corner or around the world – is stressing you out.

4. Your body is showing the effects of extra indulgence or lack of sleep – fatigue, weight gain, indigestion and back and neck pain.

5. You have no energy and/or you're feeling lazy.

6. You're arguing more with your loved ones and you're easily irritated by things they say and do.

Adding in some structure to otherwise unstructured time can keep you feeling good about yourself and your choices all through your holidays, and can keep you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated long after you return to your regular routine.

Here are some suggestions:

1. Keep your sleep on track. When we don't "have" to get up in the morning to rush off to work or our other responsibilities, it's tempting to oversleep or to fall into the pattern of staying up late and rising late. While it's certainly a great idea to "catch up" on sleep during your time off, experts agree that having a regular bedtime and waking time keeps us at our best. So if you've been exploring the night life during your time off, give yourself at least a few days at the end of your holiday to get back to your regular bedtime and waking routine. This way your body won’t get a shock when it’s time to go back to work.

2. Keep your meal times regular and your meals healthy. It's tempting to let go of any planning or structure during time off, and this includes meals. Grabbing whatever's there, whenever you think of it, can lead to poor food choices that don't give you the nutrition you need to keep you going strong for all the fun you've planned.

3. Have at least one activity planned every day. The key word here is "planned" – plans can, and should, be changed – this is YOUR free time, after all! Having something planned helps to keep you moving around and active and keeps you from slipping into lethargy.

4. Take some time alone. After all, as much as you love your family, you're not used to spending 24 hours a day with them. Spending some time apart, nourishing your own self-care, will help you to appreciate each other more when you're together.

5. A change is as good as a rest. This well-worn expression has lots of truth to it. Having time off doesn't necessarily mean a complete absence of activity. Instead, it can be a rich schedule of activities that are things you don't usually get to do. This could include self-care rituals such as an aromatherapy treatment, time in the garden, experimenting with a new, colourful vegetable in the kitchen or visiting a friend.

And above all, adjust your expectations – of yourself, of your loved ones and of your holiday plans. As this article has discussed, sometimes a holiday is NOT the rejuvenating panacea you might have hoped for.

While I hope these tips will help you to improve your experience during your time off, try to let go of the pressure to pack in as much fun and/or relaxation as you can.

Instead, enjoy each moment as it comes and focus on the next healthy choice you can make.

© Linda Dessau, 2005.

Author's Bio: 

Linda Dessau, the Self-Care Coach, is the author of “The Everyday Self-Care Workbook”. For free and low-cost self-care resources, visit http://www.genuinecoaching.com/resources.html