Work From…Anywhere? Tips From Travellers Who Do ‘Workcations’ Right
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Work From…Anywhere? Tips From Travellers Who Do ‘Workcations’ Right

Want to make your time off go further? Take advantage of remote work to set up in a holiday location for a week, even a month. The risk: missing the point of travelling in the first place.

By JEN ROSE SMITH
Fri, Sep 15, 2023 8:49amGrey Clock 3 min

ASHLEY SCHWARTAU escaped to a Mexican beach town just two weeks after starting a new job for a Chicago-based insurance company. It’s not that Schwartau, 38, is a late-blooming spring breaker. She and her husband both work remotely, so when winter arrived at home in Nashville, Tenn., the pair decided to clock in from a vacation rental with a pool in Playa del Carmen.

For the next four weeks, the couple took calls from their temporary home, while their 4-year-old son attended a bilingual preschool whose $350 monthly tuition would be implausible back in Nashville. After hours, the trio played at the nearby beach, lounged poolside or grazed at neighbourhood taco stands. Following a weeklong-vacation chaser at month’s end, they returned to Tennessee restored. “It’s hard for working parents to truly find moments of relaxation, and that was one of the most relaxing trips we’ve ever taken,” said Schwartau, who documented the trip on her blog to inspire others looking to expand their own definitions of remote work.

Unlike some full-time “digital nomads”—who skew young, male and child-free—Schwartau has no plans to permanently swap home life for stints in Lisbon or Bali. Instead, Schwartau used her hybrid “workcation” to capitalise on a remote-friendly job and temporarily set up shop away from home’s routines and responsibilities.

The trip also let her save some paid time off while still traveling, a strategy that appeals to workers in the U.S., where the average private-sector job affords just 11 days off after a year. With employers increasingly offering flexible work options, workcations seem to be a pandemic-accelerated trend with staying power. A 2023 study by Deloitte showed that one in five travellers planned to do some work on their primary summer trips, with many using flexible policies to eke out additional time away.

Still, obstacles abound. Jet lag can sap work output, sand will destroy your computer and dutifully clocking hours a block from a beach invites intense FOMO. It takes finesse to make workcations work—here’s how to pull one off.

Get in the (time) zone

Going too far afield—or heading in the wrong direction—can tug routines out of alignment. Dan Hammel of Benicia, Calif., works for a tech concern that follows Central time and offers staffers two annual work-from-anywhere weeks. Last fall, Hammel spent one off-kilter week working from the Italian city of Bologna. “My hours in Europe were probably about 4 p.m. to midnight,” he said of the need to align with his stateside colleagues’ workdays. After days spent touring nearby Modena and Parma with his wife, Hammel found the schedule challenging. “I like to be in bed around 10,” said Hammel, 45.

To avoid red-eye marathons, follow your natural sleep pattern to the optimal time zone. For Hammel, that meant Maui, where he worked remotely in May. “I would get up at 5 a.m. and would be done around noon,” he said. “We would have the whole rest of the day to nap, relax for a little bit after my workday, hit the beach, go to dinner.”

Make space

Remote work might conjure Instagram shots of laptops lolling on beach chairs, but such scenes don’t translate to meaningful productivity. Deloitte found that more than half of all travelers look for work-friendly spaces when booking accommodation. William DeSousa, 73, a public-relations professional from Osterville, Mass., craves more space than hotel rooms offer: He’s a villa guy.

For 16 years, he’s spent a month working from Greece with his husband and has learned that walls do wonders. “We both need to be on phones, or be on Zoom calls,” he said. “I think separate workspaces work best for couples.” This year, the pair will enjoy the beach-and-taverna circuit while clocking in from villas in Santorini and Crete.

Other travellers opt for hotels—such as Mama Shelter Shoreditch London and the Hoxton Chicago—with dedicated co-working areas and brisk internet. Whatever you decide, ask for bandwidth details before booking: The website Global Nomad Guide, which advises remote workers, recommends download speeds of at least 50 Mbps.

Log off

Many remote workers are loath to shut devices down, which can lead to post-workcation regrets. Commit in advance to logging off, said Jaime Kurtz, professor of psychology at James Madison University and author of “The Happy Traveler: Unpacking the Secrets of Better Vacations.” Tell yourself, “‘I’m going to work this many hours a day, and then I will go out and take advantage of the place,’” Kurtz said. She suggested travellers seek experiences that sideline devices completely, such as riding a bike or joining a food tour.

And while remote work can help PTO go farther, don’t mistake working getaways for more truly replenishing vacations. That’s why many workcationers, including Schwartau and Hammel, follow remote stints with actual time off, using working trips as a launchpad for dedicated travel time.

Jessica de Bloom, a professor of psychology at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, who studies the blurring frontiers between work and leisure time, considers true disconnection essential to thriving. A request for comment for this story prompted an out-of-office message, suggesting de Bloom lives by her own findings. “I am currently enjoying a vacation,” the auto-response read. “I choose not to work and check my emails, because research showed that working during holidays can be detrimental for my health.”

The Wall Street Journal is not compensated by retailers listed in its articles as outlets for products. Listed retailers frequently are not the sole retail outlets.



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Anger Does a Lot More Damage to Your Body Than You Realise

We all get mad now and then. But too much anger can cause problems.

By SUMATHI REDDY
Fri, May 24, 2024 3 min

Anger is bad for your health in more ways than you think.

Getting angry doesn’t just hurt our mental health , it’s also damaging to our hearts, brains and gastrointestinal systems, according to doctors and recent research. Of course, it’s a normal emotion that everyone feels—few of us stay serene when a driver cuts us off or a boss makes us stay late. But getting mad too often or for too long can cause problems.

There are ways to keep your anger from doing too much damage. Techniques like meditation can help, as can learning to express your anger in healthier ways.

One recent study looked at anger’s effects on the heart. It found that anger can raise the risk of heart attacks because it impairs the functioning of blood vessels, according to a May study in the Journal of the American Heart Association .

Researchers examined the impact of three different emotions on the heart: anger, anxiety and sadness. One participant group did a task that made them angry, another did a task that made them anxious, while a third did an exercise designed to induce sadness.

The scientists then tested the functioning of the blood vessels in each participant, using a blood pressure cuff to squeeze and release the blood flow in the arm. Those in the angry group had worse blood flow than those in the others; their blood vessels didn’t dilate as much.

“We speculate over time if you’re getting these chronic insults to your arteries because you get angry a lot, that will leave you at risk for having heart disease ,” says Dr. Daichi Shimbo, a professor of medicine at Columbia University and lead author of the study.

Your gastrointestinal system

Doctors are also gaining a better understanding of how anger affects your GI system.

When someone becomes angry, the body produces numerous proteins and hormones that increase inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation can raise your risk of many diseases.

The body’s sympathetic nervous system—or “fight or flight” system—is also activated, which shunts blood away from the gut to major muscles, says Stephen Lupe, director of behavioural medicine at the Cleveland Clinic’s department of gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition. This slows down movement in the GI tract, which can lead to problems like constipation.

In addition, the space in between cells in the lining of the intestines opens up, which allows more food and waste to go in those gaps, creating more inflammation that can fuel symptoms such as stomach pain, bloating or constipation.

Your brain

Anger can harm our cognitive functioning, says Joyce Tam, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. It involves the nerve cells in the prefrontal cortex, the front area of our brain that can affect attention, cognitive control and our ability to regulate emotions.

Anger can trigger the body to release stress hormones into the bloodstream. High levels of stress hormones can damage nerve cells in the brain’s prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus, says Tam.

Damage in the prefrontal cortex can affect decision-making, attention and executive function, she adds.

The hippocampus, meanwhile, is the main part of the brain used in memory. So when neurons are damaged, that can disrupt the ability to learn and retain information, says Tam.

What you can do about it

First, figure out if you’re angry too much or too often. There’s no hard and fast rule. But you may have cause for concern if you’re angry for more days than not, or for large portions of the day, says Antonia Seligowski, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, who studies the brain-heart connection.

Getting mad briefly is different than experiencing chronic anger, she says.

“If you have an angry conversation every now and again or you get upset every now and again, that’s within the normal human experience,” she says. “When a negative emotion is prolonged, when you’re really having a lot more of it and maybe more intensely, that’s where it’s bad for your health.”

Try mental-health exercises. Her group is looking at whether mental-health treatments, like certain types of talk therapy or breathing exercises, may also be able to improve some of the physical problems caused by anger.

Other doctors recommend anger-management strategies. Hypnosis, meditation and mindfulness can help, says the Cleveland Clinic’s Lupe. So too can changing the way you respond to anger.

Slow down your reactions. Try to notice how you feel and slow down your response, and then learn to express it. You also want to make sure you’re not suppressing the feeling, as that can backfire and exacerbate the emotion.

Instead of yelling at a family member when you’re angry or slamming something down, say, “I am angry because X, Y and Z, and therefore I don’t feel like eating with you or I need a hug or support,” suggests Lupe.

“Slow the process down,” he says.

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This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

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