As your thoughts start to gather, take a moment to reflect – are you prepared to make the most of your upcoming vacation?

Vacations are a great time to unwind with family and loved ones. Creating a schedule of balance and moderation can help optimize your time off.

Here are some tips to help you to be mindful of your choices, to make the most of your vacation:

1. Plan and schedule physical activity into your day – Stay moving!

Whether it is a long walk on the beach, sightseeing, or playing with your kids, staying active can help you feel great. Go for a bike ride, or use the pool or gym at your hotel. Remember to pack comfortable walking shoes and exercise clothes.

2. Plan for meals and have a balance of indulgences.

Check out the menus of restaurants you plan to visit beforehand, and then decide on best food options. Don’t overindulge at every meal – it’s certainly okay to have your favorite foods, but make it a specific choice and take time to enjoy the meal. Be mindful of what you are eating and delight in every bite.

3. Bring healthy snacks.

A little planning goes a long way! Packing healthy options like nuts, low-sugar protein bars, and fruit will help to keep blood sugar levels regulated and will make you less likely to overeat later due to intense feelings of hunger.

4. Stay hydrated, especially with extra alcohol consumption and travel.

Keep bottled water on hand, especially if you are traveling to a place where the tap water is either unsafe or highly processed, which can make you less likely to drink it.

5. Lessen jet lag.

Drink water during your flight and avoid dehydrating drinks like alcohol and coffee. Try adapting your schedule incrementally before you leave home – if you are flying east, try getting up and going to bed a bit earlier a few days prior, and do the opposite if you traveling west. In addition, consider changing your watch when you get on the plane to help you psychologically adjust to a new time zone. Also, get up and move during the flight to keep your body feeling its best.

6. Sleep hygiene.

Identify strategies that you use at home to help you sleep. For example, if you are accustomed to sleeping with a noise machine, try a noise machine app on your phone, or bring earplugs. Also, plan ahead. If you know you are sensitive to excess light, bring clothespins or clips to fully close hotel curtains, or try wearing a sleep mask for a few nights at home and bringing it with you if you find it comfortable.

7. Unplug, especially before bed.

It can be tempting to check email before bed, especially if you have been avoiding it all day, but that can lead to excess stimulation, both in anxiety about to-do lists and from the computer and cell phone light waves. If you enjoy reading a book or listening to music to help you unwind, make sure that you have them handy.

8. Breathe/meditate/relax.

Take advantage of some extra free time to commit to a practice of relaxation. Even just a few minutes of mindful breathing can increase feelings of calmness. Practicing for several days in a row may even become a habit you can incorporate into your regular schedule.

9. You don’t have to travel far.

From the mountains to the ocean, Los Angeles is a wonderful city to explore! Try a restaurant in an unfamiliar neighborhood, visit a museum you have never been to, or go to an outdoor summer concert. Carve out a little time to be a tourist in the city that you call home.

10. And finally, be present and thankful for where you are, your alone time or the people you are with!

Approaching your vacation with mindfulness can help you to make the most of your time off so you can go back to your regular schedule, and enter back into your regular routines feeling happy and refreshed.

Have you taken a vacation recently and are you unable to wind down? We may be able to help. Schedule an appointment with a primary care physician who will be able to work on a game plan to recovery.

If you’re in the Southern California area and are in search of a primary care physician, call (800)USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or visit to schedule an appointment.

By Chloe Whiteford and Brian Wylie