Secrets for a stress-free vacation


Breathe, take in the scenery, feel the sun on your skin
and listen to the birds.

Whether you're travelling with family, friends or getting away as a couple, here are some tips from Sylvie Boucher, a psychologist and life coach, to help things go smoothly.

Plan and prepare
Even if you decide not to do much of anything, you still need to plan and prepare. That way, you're planning your break and adopting a mindset that allows you to be schedule-free.

Break out of your routine
For example, go out from day one, have breakfast outside, forget about housework for the first week, and really make what you choose to do memorable so that your vacation stays with you the rest of the year.

Live in the moment
You won't enjoy that nice picnic very much if you start planning dinner in your head or thinking about the next day. Breathe, take in the scenery, feel the sun on your skin and listen to the birds.

Adopt a slower pace than usual
Some people are like race horses, while others are more like work horses. Don't try to do in two weeks what you wanted to do the other 50 weeks of the year. Vacations aren't all about a to-do list!

Respect yourself and others
You can be mindful of your needs and wishes while trying to find win-win solutions for everyone. Decide on something you can all enjoy.

Choice, not obligation
Try to see housework as a choice and not an obligation. During vacation, have a laundering service take care of the dirty clothes, or do it one morning yourself without making a big deal of it.

Family fun
Here's an idea everyone will like: lighten up house rules and inject some fun into your everyday routines. "For example, don't make up the beds, or get the kids to make a few meals if they're big enough. Basically, give yourself permission to relax, and leave room for creativity," suggests Boucher. Surprise the kids by giving them anything their heart desires for one day, as long as it's all free.

Getting away as a couple
Keep your expectations realistic--words to live by! How many couples dream of going away together as a way to bring them closer? But is that just a fantasy? Often, yes! "The first week, many couples are too tired to really connect, so you really need to talk about your expectations from the get-go," says Boucher.

Adventures with friends
Going on vacation together is a real test of friendship. That's why it's important to make your expectations clear and provide means for resolving any clashes. Talk openly about it before you leave.

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