Why take a workation?

If you’re self-employed or an entrepreneur you probably get invited to a lot of things where you need to be “on”. Well, sometimes you want to turn off, but you can’t actually unplug completely (say, when there is a natural disaster happening nearby). So what’s the best alternative? In my book, it’s taking a “workation”. I’m not sure if I coined the term, but I know I started using it before Trump started using the words “working vacation” and that’s exactly what it is.

As a doctor, medical advisor to many companies, public speaker, and consultant, I wear a lot of hats with joy. But, sometimes I need to take a few off and get away to focus on an individual project or just because I want some fresh air (this time literally). This is why I started to take workations semi-regularly. My style may not be what you go for when taking some time off, but it’s everything I need to be my best all while relaxing and experiencing a lot of the benefits of a vacation without feeling like I’ve missed out on anything urgent or important on my plate.

Here are my top 6 tips for taking the optimal workation:

#1. First, pick a place surrounded by nature. My favorite spots are Marin County in the woods or by the beach somewhere in the world like my parent’s winter home on Amelia Island in northern part of Florida. When you take a workation somewhere close to trees you’re able to enjoy the benefits of forest bathing, which include decreased oxidative stress and inflammation, decreased blood pressure, improved immunity, greater vigor, and a more positive outlook on life.1,2,3 I live in a concrete jungle so going somewhere with trees or the sea next to me really refreshes my senses and gives me the opportunity to unwind with the sound of waves or animals chirping around me.

#2. Bring uber healthy food and beverages during your travels. For me that meant, bringing my favorite stuff with me in a mini cooler which included veggies and fruits from Imperfect Produce and Matcha from Breakaway Matcha. Whenever I travel (near or far) I tend to want to bring enough food to last me at least a day or two as you never know how much time it will take to locate a good grocery store. I do this whenever I go to New York or LA. People on planes often comment at how impressed they are that I have so much healthy fresh food. Plane food is pretty toxic and so is most airport food, so I bring my own.

#3. Find the healthiest grocery store around you where you will be staying. I like enjoy the local awesomeness that new worlds offer. Good Earth Natural Foods is a grocery store mecca. I like to get their fresh poached salmon, Green River soup, homemade sauerkraut, fresh green juice, coffee with homemade almond milk, fresh cooked greens, and kale salad from the salad bar (and okay maybe a slice of their wheat free carrot cake).

#4. Stick with your routine. I have a fairly extensive morning routine which I’ll talk about in my next blog post. If there is one thing that keeps me feeling grounded it’s making sure I still get up at the same time every morning and go to sleep at the same time in the evening. This makes me feel at home wherever I am. The perks of being in nature is meditating is even more meditative.

#5. Try on a new fitness regimen by scoping out the recommended best spots. While in Mill Valley for five days I had the good fortune of going to hot power yoga at New Om World. I’m a sucker for the combination of good music and great fitness so when half way through the class the teacher started playing Led Zeppelin I got a big smile on my face. I rocked out while sweating as hard as I would be at a concert in the summer heat at Burning Man. I’m hoping to check out Y7 in Williamsburg when I’m staying there in a few weeks. It’s only a couple blocks down the street from me which is even more convenient.

#6. Work for only half the day. This is the key for me to fully enjoy a workation. Feeling like I got work done but my entire time was not spent working. When I got back to the city I was able to jump back into the swing of things without feeling like I missed anything but maybe a few emails. I felt refreshed, calmer, more positive. I had given myself time to reflect on my reality and make some important decisions.

#7. Leave gifts for people who share their homes with you. Cultivating community has many benefits that go beyond friendship. The more you share yourself with others the more they share with you. Last weekend I was in Mill Valley staying in my friends’ home while they were out of town. I left a gift for my friend who shared her room with me because I want her to know how much I care about her. I’m also going to be giving a gift to my other friend who owns the house I was in as it was his generosity that enabled me to stay there.

I hope you enjoyed this how to guide to workationing. I had to leave Mill Valley a few hours earlier than anticipated as a fire broke out on the 101 near Sausolito. As I was in a Lyft home (the long way home through the Richmond and Bay Bridge) I saw, smelled and felt smoke in the air. I tried to stay positive knowing any problems that may have been on my mind are nothing close to what so many families are experiencing. We would all be a lot happier if we took more time off to be in the present moment and think about how fortunate we are.

As I am writing this, firefighters are still battling blazes in Santa Cruz and Sonoma. If you feel so inclined to donate, here’s a link to the GoFundMe page of the Napa and Sonoma Fire Relief effort.

Works Cited:

1. A forest bathing trip increases human natural killer activity and expression of anti-cancer proteins in female subjects.

2. Therapeutic effect of forest bathing on human hypertension in the elderly.

3. Effects of short-term forest bathing on human health in a broad-leaved evergreen forest in Zhejiang Province, China.