August’s arrival may mean the summer is dying down, but many people take vacations this month. However, as we’re more connected than we’ve ever been via our smart phones and tablets, sometimes actually leaving work at work or home at home is nearly impossible — we check our emails and voicemails with ease, and are constantly connected with our home lives via social networks and text messaging.

Lesley Seeger, LCSW, staff therapist and member of the Mindfulness and Behavior Therapies Program at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, is available to provide insights on how to relax and enjoy while on vacation despite these challenges.

“We are programmed to be available — to our jobs, our friends and our families — and often feel a heightened sense of responsibility as a result,” says Ms. Seeger. “Often times, our sense of obligation to get back to people stems from the fact that we are nervous we’ll be seen as less committed or a weak communicator if we don’t respond right away. Or, we may be excited about a future plan and want to reconfirm our commitment. As a result, it becomes hard to just turn off our phones, even on vacation.”

Ms. Seeger points out that vacations require tending to and preparation. “It’s important to go into a vacation being flexible about what you may need or want,” she says. “Often times, people try to do too much on vacation; they overschedule and make themselves too busy. It’s important to tend to your own needs on vacation, and allow for downtime, spontaneity and relaxation.”

Mindfulness can be a valuable tool to help be present while on vacation and to combat the anxiety that may arise from being disconnected from home and/or work. “It can be anxiety-producing to cut off the connections we’re so used to,” says Ms. Seeger. “When you feel yourself wondering about what’s happening at home or at work, acknowledge those feelings and thoughts, let them go, and bring yourself back. Pay attention to the sights, sounds, activities and loveliness around you—take advantage of the moment that you’re in.”

To speak with Ms. Seeger about using mindfulness on vacation, relaxing while out of town, or tips for making vacations less stressful, or to learn more about The Family Institute, please contact Colleen O’Connor at [email protected] or 312-609-5300 ext. 485. Visit the Institute’s website to learn more:

ABOUT THE FAMILY INSTITUTE AT NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY – For 45 years, The Family Institute at Northwestern University ( has been committed to strengthening and healing families from all walks of life through clinical service, education and research. An affiliate of Northwestern University, The Family Institute is a unique, innovative not-for-profit organization, governed by its own independent Board of Directors and responsible for its own funding. The Institute offers a wide range of high quality mental health counseling through our staff practice and our sliding-fee scale Bette D. Harris Family and Child Clinic, where we are committed to serving at-risk, under-resourced communities. The Family Institute also operates two nationally-renowned graduate programs in marriage and family therapy and counseling psychology in affiliation with Northwestern University, and conducts cutting edge research projects that lead to a better understanding and treatment of mental health issues.