Switch off this summer

SWITCH OFF THIS SUMMER The Off SwitchOne of the most hard-working businesswomen I know has just sent me an email to say she is taking the whole of August off to relax, spend time with her husband and three children ‘and wear nothing but a sarong and sunblock for four weeks’. Mark Cropley, professor of health psychology at the University of Surrey, would approve. In his new book The Off Switch he writes, ‘Many health professionals, myself included, now believe that taking a regular holiday should be considered a necessity.’

However, 40 per cent of workers in the UK – more than four million people – do not take their full holiday allowance. Freelance and casual workers would up that percentage considerably, given the more precarious nature of their employment. But taking time out from work – even a mini-break to a city or spa, or a staycation doing your garden – is essential, Professor Cropley believes, if we want to work efficiently, think creatively and have good relationships with our friends and family.

One of the most difficult tricks for many workers is to switch off completely. ‘Women especially tend to feel guilty about taking time off and both men and women often take work with them and check emails on holiday.’ So see right for Professor Cropley’s practical tips for flicking that off-switch and allowing yourself time to unwind properly.

The Off Switch by Professor Mark Cropley is published by Virgin Books, price £12.99*

● Plan the holiday you really want to experience, as part of the magic is the anticipation. It need not be a luxury – if you are on a budget, consider camping or volunteering. ● Make a to-do list of the key things you need to get off your desk in good time before you leave. ● Organise your work so that you complete tasks or come to a natural break. Clearly delegate anything that has to be left hanging. ● Don’t try to cram everything into the final week – you are more likely to make mistakes if you rush. ● Tidy your desk or workstation before leaving; it will clear your mind as well. ● Don’t take work with you and don’t check emails on holiday. Nominate a contact person on your out-of-office response for any vital work issues. ● Find activities and people to absorb you while you are away so you can really enjoy the present time, whether it’s visiting castles and gardens, playing beach volleyball or backgammon, or catching up on books and DVDs. ● Finally, says Professor Cropley, don’t get stressed if you find yourself thinking about work – ‘just don’t be tempted to do anything about it. Take another sip of your piña colada and let the thought drift away…’

Viridian Cherry NightAs a long-term poor sleeper prone to waking at 3 or 4am, I am over the moon to have found Viridian Cherry Night (£24.95 for 150g, www.victoriahealth.com), which is described as a ‘nutritional nightcap’ by the brand’s in-house formulator and naturopath Ben Brown. With natural melatonin – the sleep hormone – from cherries, plus calming glycine and magnesium, a teaspoon of this pink powder in water, milk or natural yoghurt gives me a much better quality of sleep so I have more sustained energy during the day. After three months of taking it nightly I am now used to sleeping well, which amazes me.



Uniglo AirismEven if you’re not prone to perspiring excessively, travelling on crowded public transport can be a challenge. A colleague rates Uniqlo’s functional AIRism clothing range for women, men and children – silky-feeling tops and vests with super-fine fibres to wick away sweat, plus anti-odour properties. An AIRism vest under her shirt ensures she arrives cool and dry at the office. Yoga bunnies and sporty types love AIRism too. £9.90 for a women’s sleeveless top or camisole, www.uniqlo.com.


WEBSITE OF THE WEEK: www.skinsmatter.com

Anyone with skin sensitivities, other allergies or intolerances and related health concerns can find information on this sub-site of www.foodsmatter.com. The newly released winners list of the FreeFrom Skincare Awards – I was one of the judges – can be found here too. The Best FreeFrom Brand overall was Neal’s Yard Remedies and there was a range of other wonderful winning products that came up to the highest standards.