While we’re constantly inspired by women who pursue their passions full time, some of us are still in jobs that are… less than ideal.
We impatiently wait for our next weekend, and fantasize about our next three-day or (better yet) three-month vacation.
But what if we could make each day—even a Monday—a little more like a trip to a new destination?
You don’t have to wait until summer to get that much needed R&R, and you can do it without booking a flight or dipping into your savings. There are simple things that you can do to give your mind, body, and soul a break from your usual schedule.
1. Switch up your route to work (even if that means a longer commute)
It sounds counter-intuitive to extend your work day even more, but the simple act of breaking routine can make a huge difference in your day. You’re probably aware of the experience: performing repetitive tasks at work makes the clock slow down.
Well, so does a repetitive commute. It doesn’t take much—taking a different street to see some new architecture, catching a glimpse of the ocean or your city’s main river along your way, or cutting through a beautiful park can make you feel like you’ve taken a little trip each day.
Do you make coffee at home on weekdays or go to the same place on your commute? Once a week, try stopping into a cafe in a different neighborhood on your way to work and give yourself an extra 20 minutes to sit down to people watch while you sip your espresso. Think of it as a Parisian morning—so chic and adventurous. In fact, buy yourself that croissant.
2. Chat with someone new
Whether it’s the coworker down the hall, the barista at your coffee shop, or that Meetup group you’ve been wanting to attend, make it a point to strike up a conversation with someone each day.
One of the best parts of being on vacation is meeting the locals and learning about their lives, but we tend to shuffle past people during our usual routine. Part of that is the fear of rejection—while vacation forces us to talk to strangers, we tend to fear someone rebuffing our attempts at conversation.
But did you know facing rejection actually makes us more confident?
Chances are there are some interesting stories right outside your door, and maybe even an unexpected professional connection.
Talk to someone on your commute. We often bury our heads in a book or our iPhones, but if you take a bus or train to work each morning, try asking someone about what they’re reading. There’s something incredibly empowering about stepping out of your comfort zone and engaging.
3. Get adventurous at meal time
It’s so easy to get stuck in a routine. Smoothie, salad, pizza, repeat, anyone? We challenge you to try some new recipes from around the world. There are some incredibly delicious and simple recipes out there to transport you to a new place after 5pm. Try this spinach and butternut squash daal from our Contessa McKel Hill for a taste of India—no overseas flight required.
Does cooking sound too daunting with your workload? You can still get takeout from a restaurant you’ve never tried rather than ordering from that Chinese place down the street where they know your order or even have groceries delivered while you work. We’ve got a great round-up of food apps for you.
We’re all career-driven so we’re often guilty of eating while working (or browsing Instagram). Try turning mealtime into a tech timeout. Switching your professional brain off once in awhile? Rejuvenating.
4. Let your podcast take you to another country
There are plenty of travel podcasts out there, but Zero to Travel will take you around the world with stories of fascinating world travelers and have you dreaming of Bali and Rome all day long. I promise your commute will never feel quite the same. Plus, it helps you plan for future adventures—looking forward on your commute will make you feel both productive and empowered.
If your desk job means that you can work with headphones in, consider listening to a podcast (or even a book on tape) while you work. The same goes for your commute. Sure, it’s easier to listen to music when you’re just waking up, but making better use of those hours will mean you leave work feeling that much more inspired.
5. Treat yourself to a night at the spa
You know that body scrub that you never use? It’s time to break it out. Going to a spa is something that us ladies often save for vacation, but you don’t need to. Taking a mental break can lead to new ideas and a fresh perspective, which keep us present and excited about our day-to-day. In fact, your night in is a great time to think about your goals for the next week. So light some candles, flip on the Spotify “Spa” playlist, and turn up a hot bath. You deserve it.
If you’re lucky enough to live in a city with a Korean spa (you’d be surprised how many of them do—ahem, Tacoma, WA), we can’t recommend trying one enough. Typically they run less than $25 for unlimited access, and you can often find one on your commute home, meaning you’ll be sitting in tubs during the worst point of rush hour. Trust us, a steam sauna is soul-changing.
6. Join a twitter chat or online workshop or class
If you’re like most women, you’re probably working long weeks and ready for a glass of wine and a few episodes of Transparent when you get home so committing to a weekly Ceramics class at 8pm sounds daunting.
The good news is you can explore new ideas and meet new people from home. Try joining one of Career Contessa’s monthly Career Chats on Twitter or signing up for an online workshop through General Assembly and Brit + Co.