1. Listen to ambient music - Put on a radio station or playlist with sounds of the beach. Lay back, relax and just be present. Whether it's the beach, rain forest, thunderstorms...sounds of nature calm the mind and give you that zen feeling that is essential for stress relief.
2. Light candles, dim the lights and turn your room into an oasis - Taking a vacation doesn't have to mean a thousand dollar spa day. Go to target, pick up a few candles that you love, dim or turn off the lights completely, just lay back and soak it in. If there's a scent that takes you back to childhood memories like baking cookies or cinnamon, buy a candle reminiscent of that. Anything to just get your mind of reality and completely relax.
3. Go for a nature walk - Studies have shown that getting out into nature for even just a few minutes each day can reduce stress and calm nerves. Think about what you do on vacation: go for a hike, walk on the beach. Take a leisurely walk without a destination in mind. Leave your phone at home to avoid distractions and let nature do its thing.
4. Find three new places within 45 minutes and try them out. Make a day trip out of it. - Exploring new places is not exclusive to vacations. Take a day trip with friends or your significant other one weekend. Look up a few places within a 45 minute driving distance, or more if you're feeling it, and just go. Leave your phones off and pretend you're somewhere exotic. You can have a great time and experience new things without a giant price tag.
5. Unplug - One of the main things so far has been turning off your phone. We're so attached to technology and always needing to be available that we sometimes forget that we need to just shut it off. For one weekend, turn off all technology. Don't even turn on the TV except for a movie night. No Netflix binges either. Go for a walk. Meet up with friends for lunch. Reconnect in person rather than through an impersonal text message. Forget about what's going on on Facebook.
6. Go to the farmer's market and cook up something out of your comfort zone - One of my favorite things to do when I travel is try the local food. I might complain about it a bit excessively at first but I always try new things. That's something simple you can replicate at home. Google a recipe from a destination that you are dying to visit. Go to your local farmer's market and cook it up. Make it a night with friends or just a dinner for two.
7. Meet friends for coffee or lunch - We are so focused on work and getting things done we sometimes lose sight of the things that are important: friends and family. When was the last time you called your best friend to see how she's doing? When was the last time you went to lunch with your mom? One of the worst things about social media and cell phones is that they disconnect us from each other and eliminate the human element that used to be so necessary in life. Reconnect without the digital landscape. Look someone in the eye as you give them advice or a compliment. Touch someone's hand as you offer sympathy. Hug your friend goodbye. Get a little more personal and open yourself up. You'd be surprised what that can do for you.
8. Just drive - Roadtrips are considered vacations so why not take a little one of your own. Take a drive without a destination in mind and just go for a few hours. See what you find. Venture into small towns. If you don't pass any, at least you'll clear your head a bit. What do you have to lose? A tank of gas?