5 Steps to a Stress-Free Vacation from Work

With the holidays around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about taking some time off from work. That can be difficult for some of us who suffer from “workaholism,” a condition common to people in the Tri-State area. We work harder and longer than most people, and then feel guilty about taking some well-earned time off. This is not only unnecessary, it’s potentially unhealthy. Taking time off has shown to be healthy for our body, mind, and spirit, and can actually improve our overall outlook and productivity when we return to work. Here’s how to take time off from work without feeling bad about it.

Step 1: Be strategic with your days off.

When scheduling your vacation days in advance, look at a calendar and be strategic about it. Take time off when it’s not your busy season. Consider returning to work a day earlier than you announce, to build in some extra time to ease into your work routine. Also, try to avoid booking anything important the day before your vacation or the first day back. And plan effectively so you can leave work a few hours early the day before, rather than doing what many people do and leave late, adding substantially to their stress level.

Step 2: Let colleagues know you’ll be away. 

Managers and coworkers will appreciate advanced notice that you will be going away. Send a notice in writing via email, and, if necessary, schedule one or two brief meetings, or talk to colleagues one on one about ongoing projects, what could potentially come up, and who to contact in your absence. Leave a number where you can be reached if it is urgent—but more importantly — ask a trusted colleague to step in as the contact in your absence.

Step 3: Set up messages and email.

Before you leave, set away messages for your e-mail and voicemail, making sure to include your return date and the names and numbers of coworkers who can be contacted in your absence. Also give a copy of important files to a colleague who can step in on your behalf if the need arises.

Step 4: Disconnect when away.

You know how it goes: You finally take a vacation away from the office or business, but you can’t help yourself from checking email or calling in just to make sure everything’s OK. The problem with this seemingly responsible behavior is that it can confuse colleagues. If you say you are not working, but are checking and returning phone calls and emails, you’ll send a mixed message. This applies especially to managers, whose vacation behavior sets the tone for the entire group. If the boss answers e-mails within 30 minutes even while on vacation, the workers will likely assume they’re expected to do the same. More importantly, not disconnecting prevents a person from enjoying the mental, physical and even spiritual benefits of truly restorative downtime.

If your job responsibilities and/or company culture truly prevents you from totally disconnecting from work during vacations, try to limit how often you check in. Do what works for you, but realize the importance of limiting your work time when away.

Step 5: Give credit where it’s due.

Upon your return, block out some time the first few days to meet with your manager and/or colleagues to catch up on what occurred during your absence. Take time to acknowledge the good work of those who covered for you while away. If appropriate, bring back a small gift as a token of your appreciation.

Remember, you deserve this time off. Taking time away from work responsibly is healthy on many levels, from physical rest to renewing your spiritual purpose. So prepare ahead of time, talk to people, and don’t feel guilty about it. Taking earned time away can also show managers and coworkers that you respect healthy boundaries when it comes to work and life.

2017 New York City Holiday Events Calendar

For those of us living in the Tri-State area, we’re lucky to be just a short car ride away from one of the most festive and exciting cities in the world: Manhattan, better known as, “The Big Apple”! To help you plan your upcoming activities, here’s our 2017 New York City Holiday Events Calendar.

Fun and free: Holiday windows in NYC!

One of the most cherished Manhattan holiday traditions is also a free one—enjoying the department store window displays of some of New York City’s finest and most iconic department stores. Here are some stores and addresses to put on your holiday look list:

  • Barneys New York, 660 Madison Avenue between 60th and 61st Streets
  • Bergdorf Goodman, 754 Fifth Avenue at 58th Streets
  • Bloomingdale’s, 59th Street and Lexington Avenue
  • Cartier, 653 Fifth Avenue at 52nd Street
  • Henri Bendel, 712 Fifth Avenue at 56th Street
  • Lord & Taylor, 424 Fifth Avenue at 39th Street
  • Macys, 34th Street and Sixth Avenue 
  • Saks Fifth Avenue, 611 Fifth Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets
  • Tiffany & Co., 727 Fifth Avenue between 56th and 57th Streets
  • Van Cleef & Arpels, 744 5th Ave, between 7th and 8th Avenue

91st Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Considered the official kickoff to the holiday season, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is watched by more than 3.5 million people on the streets of Manhattan and more than 50 million people nationwide.

In 2017, new balloons will include Jett from Super Wings, Harold the Baseball Player, Macy’s Golden Snowflake Stars, and the Macy’s Blue and White Star. You’ll also see appearances and performances by Sabrina Carpenter, Jojo Siwa, 98 Degrees, Jimmy Fallon and The Roots, Flo Rida, Wyclef Jean and The Goo Goo Dolls. Plus, numbers from Dear Evan Hansen, Anastasia, the upcoming Once On This Island and the new SpongeBob SquarePants musical.

The parade starts at 9:00 am sharp at West 77th Street and Central Park West, then proceeding to Central Park South to 6th Avenue (Avenue of the Americas), and ending at 12:00 noon at 34th Street in front of Macy’s Herald Square.

Recommended areas for watching the parade include the first leg along Central Park West, Time Warner Center and, finally, along Sixth Avenue between Central Park South and 38th Street. Note the section from 38th Street to Herald Square and Macy’s department store is the telecast area and closed to the public.

When: Thursday, Nov. 23, 2016, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Where: 77th Street and Central Park West to 34th Street/Herald Square, Manhattan
Info: www.macys.com/parade 

85th Annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting

Another iconic Manhattan holiday moment is the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting! The 2017 tree will be lit for the first time on Wednesday, Nov. 29 at Rockefeller Plaza and will remain on display through January 7, 2018.

The giant tree is traditionally a Norway spruce, and is lit with 30,000 environmentally-friendly LED lights on five miles of wire. And to top it off: a Swarovski crystal star.

The annual tree lighting is free and open to the public on a first come, first-served basis.

When: Tree lighting is Nov. 29. The tree stays lit and can be viewed until 9:00 pm on Jan. 7, 2018.
Where: Rockefeller Plaza, between West 48th & West 51st Streets and 5th and 6th Avenues, Manhattan.
Info: www.rockefellercenter.com

Newly-Updated Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes

Since 1933, people of all ages have been enjoying the Radio City Christmas Spectacular show. But this New York City holiday tradition is anything but stale. The Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) announced recently that the 2017 production of the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes, presented by Chase, has undergone a complete technological overhaul.

Technological enhancements in this year’s Christmas Spectacular include updated graphics in every production number as well as complete visual transformations of scenes such as the energetic tap number, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” “Here Comes Santa Claus,” and the finale number, “Snow.” For the first time ever, all eight of the venue’s iconic proscenium arches will have imagery projected onto them using the most advanced 14K digital mapping technology available.

From a unique take on “The Nutcracker” to the original “Here Comes Santa Claus,” the show features 140 performers, including ice skaters, dancing teddy bears, the world famous Rockettes, a live Nativity, and of course, a guest appearance from Santa Clause himself!

The Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes, presented by Chase, will run from November 10, 2017 – January 1, 2018. Tickets are on sale now at www.rockettes.com/christmas and the Radio City box office.

When: Nov. 10 through Jan. 1
Where: 1260 Avenue of the Americas, New York City
Info: radiocitychristmas.com

2017 New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train show

One of the lesser known, but equally festive and family-friendly New York City holiday events is the New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train show. Enter the Botanical Garden’s Enid A. Haupt Conservatory—a stunning Victorian-style glasshouse and a landmark itself—and watch the Garden-gauge trains loop a quarter-mile of track past 150 New York landmarks, including the original Yankee Stadium, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Trans World Airline Flight Center at John F. Kennedy Airport, and several bridges that remind that Manhattan is, indeed, an island.

This year’s exhibition features 3,000 square feet of additional exhibition space, making room for dozens of new trains, bridges, and tracks, as well as, a captivating short film of the show’s behind-the-scenes magic, and a stunning multisensory finale of light and sound.

When: Nov. 22 – Jan. 15
Where: 2900 Southern Blvd, Bronx, NY 10458
Info: www.nybg.org/hts

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™

Another timeless New York City holiday classic, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ is the holiday ballet of all ballets. From the moment the lights go down, you will be transported to a magical place inhabited by marching toy soldiers, a glowing one-ton Christmas tree, adorable children, mischievous mice, crystalline waltzing snowflakes, the Land of Sweets and some of the most glorious dancing on earth. As in years past, 90 dancers, 62 musicians, 32 stagehands and about 100 students from the School of American Ballet team up to make The Nutcracker a magical performance for all ages.

When: Nov. 24 and runs through Dec. 31
Where: West 62nd and 65th Streets and Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues, New York City
Info: nycballet.com