Richmond Times-Dispatch - - OPINIONS -

Ex­perts tell us that va­ca­tions are im­por­tant for our men­tal health. Get­ting away from the daily rou­tine re­lieves stress, im­proves mood and strength­ens fam­ily bonds.

And most peo­ple who have been cooped up un­der the coro­n­avirus quar­an­tine for the past three months are more than ready to get out of the house this sum­mer.

But fears of trav­el­ing to va­ca­tion des­ti­na­tions and tight bud­gets are mak­ing many peo­ple think twice about tak­ing a big fam­ily va­ca­tion this sum­mer. The so­lu­tion: a stay­ca­tion.

Re­searchers have found that plan­ning a va­ca­tion is one of the most plea­sur­able parts of the process. But plan­ning is even more im­por­tant dur­ing a stay­ca­tion. An iron­clad sched­ule of each day’s ac­tiv­i­ties (with al­ter­na­tives in case of rain or ex­ces­sive heat) will en­sure that you ac­tu­ally get out ev­ery day and do things that will re­fresh you phys­i­cally, men­tally and spir­i­tu­ally.

Psychology To­day rec­om­mends that stay­ca­tions com­bine phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity with learn­ing and do­ing some­thing new. Luck­ily, our re­gion and state of­fer plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties for out­side ac­tiv­ity while main­tain­ing so­cial dis­tanc­ing. But switch it up.

If you usu­ally jog or ride a bike for exercise, spend your stay­ca­tion kayak­ing on the James River or bird-watch­ing along the Blue Ridge Park­way. If your kids have never flown a kite or gone fish­ing, now’s the time to in­tro­duce them to th­ese time-tested pas­times.

Help lo­cal restau­ra­teurs re­cover from the lock­down by or­der­ing a take­out gourmet pic­nic lunch or din­ner. Dine al fresco, and linger over drinks as the sun sets.

And since you’re al­ready sav­ing a ton of money on gas, plane fares and ho­tel rooms by stay­ing close to home this year, tip ex­trav­a­gantly — and be grate­ful that you live in such a great place to visit.

— Adapted from the Free Lance-Star, Fred­er­icks­burg

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