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'Tis the season for giving, but make sure you take some time for yourself!

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Christmas isn’t even here yet but you might already be looking ahead to your next vacation.

It’s important to taking breaks from work and a stressful personal life.

“Just like your muscles need recovery time after a hard workout, so does your brain,” says Mark Underwood, a Wisconsin-based neuroscientist, author and memory expert.

“If you fatigue your brain for too long without proper rest and relaxation, you’re actually going to cause some damage to your brain. It’s going to result in a loss of memory, it’s going to result in inattentiveness,”

“The key is you can’t wait every 50 or 51 weeks for that vacation for everything to be okay with your health. You really need to dial it down, take these mini vacations. When you look at the number of people who fail to use up their vacation in a given year, it’s something that is really part of a change in our culture and society.”

And that change can affect your memory.

“Studies show that this chronic stress of the brain causes us to lose memory. So, it’s a very important thing that we treat ourselves right — make sure that we get away, maybe 15 or 30 minutes a day just for ourselves to rest, relax, pray, meditate, whatever you want to do to help keep the brain fresh,” says Underwood, who notes around 500 million vacation days go unused in the US every year.

Underwood suggests taking at least a half hour each day for yourself. “It could be taking a little nap, or getting away from your desk at lunch, making sure you’re not eating your sandwich over your keyboard.”

“Make sure that you’re getting enough interruptions in your day so you can go back and focus on your work or focusing on your activity that’s otherwise taxing your brain.”