How to Enjoy Vacation

Has this happened to you?

You think about going on vacation. You get excited about vacation. You romanticize vacation. 

And when you’re on vacation, you think about work and what’s waiting for you at home. Maybe you feel guilty about the work your team is doing in your absence or maybe you feel behind. 

I went on vacation last week, so this is super fresh for me. 

And super frustrating when you think about it.

You know you need a vacation, but taking one often backfires. Sometimes it feels more stressful than actually staying at home.

Most people feel this way. In fact, 70% of people work while they’re on vacation, in some way shape or form. 95% of those people work to keep the anxiety at bay so the week after vacation won’t be so brutal. 

I get it.

Today’s culture has blended everything to the point where we never feel like we’re “off”.

This can be especially tough on women, whose brains have more white matter and therefore make us more prone to multitasking.

With a higher responsibility for wanting to take care of others. This has obvious benefits in today’s world, until we overuse it and the cons outweigh the pros. The always-working, no-time-off paradigm is a problem that ultimately affects your productivity, passion and results.

When you always feel like you’re working, burnout is inevitable. Not to mention how it affects your relationships and physical health.

The truth is, we NEED vacation. 

By definition, vacation is a respite. It’s time AWAY from home or work that you continually do, and it typically implies something fun.

Overwhelming research tells us that the benefits of vacation include better health, increased motivation, decreased depression and anxiety, improved relationships, decreased burnout and overall life satisfaction. 

The time away actually makes way for more creativity, capacity, and margin in our brains for new perspectives because it lowers our anxiety and stress. This allows our brains to get back to executive function and logic, where we solve and reason, and where ultimately we make better decisions, lead more intentionally, and feel more grounded.

Bottom line.

Taking vacation creates more of what you want.

So how do we reconcile the tension between the demands of today’s working world and the need for time off?

We’ve talked before about the importance of how we do “time on”. And yet we know that’s an ongoing process.

Many of us need to know how to enjoy this summer’s vacation.

Here are five steps to making the most out of your next vacation:

  1. Make a plan. Decide when and where and how you want this vacation to go. Create a vision for how you want to have spent it. It’s your time away and others won’t respect it if you don’t. 
  2. Communicate. What’s important about the time that your team and family needs to know? Share your vision and where they need to be part of this process with you.
  3. Delegate or postpone. What will you let go of during your time off and who will take it? What can wait? Be clear. 
  4. Schedule worry/check-in time. Work with your brain, not against it. Allow your brain to have a set amount of time to check in to allow you to be present. Decide what that is and what the boundary will be ahead of time.
  5. Unplug. It’s your phone, computer and your life. Choose what updates you will and will not receive during your time off. 

Warning: You’ll have to fight the narrative that you can’t be away from work for a slew of reasons we’ve all heard ourselves or someone else say before. It takes effort and strategy and leadership. 

And as always, it comes down to cost.

What is that for you? What are you trading for the stress of feeling like you must always be “on”? What are you believing about that? 

This is your summer. THE summer for changing the way you’ve always done it. Maximize your potential for more. Your relationships, fulfillment, and health are depending on it.