Who doesn’t like vacations? We all love and look forward to them with eagerness and excitement. Planning and anticipating them, seeing new places, going on new adventures, doing different things than what we do regularly are very appealing. Aside from the enjoyment, however, is there other value in taking time off from our regular schedules and going on vacation? The answer is YES. Vacations have value both for our bodies and our minds. When we go on vacation, we are more likely to relax, we sleep longer and better, take it easy, slow down and take time to enjoy things around us and activities we typically don’t have time for in our busy lives. But what about our minds? How are vacations good for the mind? In a few words, they give our minds a much needed break. Our brains work all the time. They never shut down, even when we are sleeping or lying on a lounge chair doing nothing. We may think about what’s going on in the present; we may recall events that happened to us in the past and can bring back the events and the feelings associated to them; we hear fragments of conversation from people around us and these may trigger associations that can take us to all kinds of places in time and space. Even when we sleep, our brain continues to work. It processes the day events, making sense of them and arranging them in a system that is logical and organized. It connects these events to past ones, thus creating continuity and imbuing them with personal meanings. Of course, our brains continue to work even while we are on vacation. So, you may ask, what’s the difference? If we succeed in letting go of our daily lives and stay focused on the present, on vacation we get engaged in new activities and interests that provide our brain with a rest from the daily grind. It is, in fact, when we are able to shift from one topic to another that we allow our mind to rest. Working in the garden, for instance, can be more hard work than sitting in an office all day long. However, because we can relax while planting, weeding, re-potting or whatever else we do in the garden, our brain has the opportunity to shift gears, so to speak, and use different synapses to think about gardening. The same is true when we play golf, or relax under an umbrella by the pool, hike or read a book. In short, it is not the place or the activity, but the ability to shift our focus from daily activities to something different that gives our brains a well deserved rest. In order for a vacation to be truly rejuvenating and resting for our mind as well as our body, we need to be in the same place mentally and physically. This means that we could be on the most wonderful beach, or visiting the most amazing places on earth, but we may as well be in the office, if our mind cannot let go of it. So, please leave your Blackberry and your computer at home and disconnect from anything that keeps you chained to your daily concerns and preoccupations. By going in and out of two places –where you physically are and where your mind is – you will enjoy neither. If you stay in the moment, on the other hand, you will give yourself an opportunity to truly take advantage of your vacation and come back relaxed and ready to get back to your daily life. And, have a wonderful time!