The U.S. is known for being a country of workaholics. Despite the work from home setup, Americans are spending longer hours at work during the pandemic. And even before the pandemic, over half of Americans have not vacationed in a year.
There are many reasons you may want to leave your vacation days on the table, but you can’t ignore what studies have proven: Vacations make you more productive, reduce stress and improve mental health. Taking vacations can even save your life.
With the pandemic still going on and its effect on the economy, it may seem more reasonable to not use your vacation days. You may be thinking that even if you do take a vacation, you’ll still be thinking about work. Here are ways you can actually get away (even if you’re a workaholic):
1. Let people know your plans before leaving.
Touch base with your boss and colleagues before leaving for a vacation. Let them know what you’ll need to have covered while you’re away and also how to deal with certain situations if they arise.
Something people don’t always think about is that by telling other people your plans, you make your plans more concrete. Sure, you can think about going on vacation all you want, but when you mention it to others and say that you’re making plans, you’re more likely to do it.
2. Plan a relaxing vacation.
Some opt to skip vacation because they find it stressful. You may be overwhelmed at the thought of planning your vacation.
While there’s no guarantee you won’t encounter any hiccups on your vacation, you can plan a flexible schedule that allows you to enjoy activities you want to do while having enough free time and wiggle room for unexpected delays and detours… or my new favorite thing: serendipity!
You can also include downtime where you sit quietly, read a book or take a nap. Remind yourself that being on vacation doesn’t mean you have to do everything at a fast pace. Relaxing activities can do a lot to make your vacation worth it.
There are so many ways to unplug that I’m sure you’ve read about in a number of news articles, so today I’m going to share with you my personal strategy that’s really been effective for me:
I stole this idea from Arianna Huffington because it’s brilliant and I hadn’t heard about anyone else doing it before.
When employees at the Huffington Post go on vacation, there’s a mandate that all of their emails will be deleted when they’re on vacation so that there’s no temptation to work while they’re taking time off.
In essence, she’s making sure that her people enjoy their vacations instead of worrying about what they’re missing while they’re gone.
To replicate this, I created an auto-reply to tell the people who are emailing me that I’m on vacation and the email will be deleted when I’m OOTO.
If it’s really important, I ask that those who sent me emails when I was out send me the same email again when I’m back in the office.
Since I’ve used this strategy, only 2-5 people follow up with me after I return from vacation!
It can feel daunting and scary to put up this boundary, but it’s worth it for your peace of mind.
4. Get a change in scenery.
You don’t have to travel thousands of miles away or spend a lot of money to get a change in scenery. The idea is to go somewhere different from your everyday life and step out of your daily routine. It can be an excursion on the other side of town or an Airbnb right outside your city.
Even if you’re not outdoorsy, try to spend time outside as much as possible. Nature has a way of healing us and making us relax. You can do anything from hiking in the mountains to laying on the beach to stepping outside your front door.
5. Lastly, go on vacation with a relaxed mindset.
De-stressing doesn’t happen automatically just because you’re on vacation. You can’t control everything, but one thing you can control is what you bring to the table. Show up as your most relaxed, flexible self and do your best to go with the flow.
Lately, I’ve really embraced the idea that you don’t have to plan everything to have an enjoyable time. Embracing serendipity and finding joy in the small moments is what it’s all about.
I truly hope that these tips help you unwind and find some more peace during your vacation or getaway. And if you don’t have one planned yet, this is your sign to do it!
In love and respect,