Why is it that you come back from holiday feeling you haven’t had one? Constantly running around picking up after everyone else, trying to get things done that you normally don’t get time to and actually feeling more stressed out than when you go to work on a daily basis? Is it an art or a habit that one can learn, to shut down for holidays and really relax?
I believe most of us are trapped in busyness and have forgotten how to simply do nothing and just be!
Let go the guilt
I was brought up in a household were it was not tolerated to sit and read. We constantly had to be busy with something constructive, so till this day it is extremely difficult for me to be idle. Guilt is the biggest killjoy to a good vacation and hard earned rest. If you can let the guilt go, the battle is half way won.
Before you go
Ensure that your holiday plans are in place; everything booked and planned well in advance so that there is no last minute rush to get things done, which will increase your stress level before you go. Think about what you love to do not what you think you should do. If you are staying at home, be determined to get some rest too!
Buffer your vacation, don’t leave on the day that you stop work. Take a day or two at home before you go and try to do the same on your return, coming home a day or two before starting work, so that you can unpack and gradually ease back into routine.
Finish projects or parts thereof, so that you can pick up easily where you have left off. Delegate work to someone that stays behind to handle any enquiries when you are not in and redirect all email and calls to them. Temporarily block work emails to your devices for the time that you are on vacation.
Leave your work behind
Remember you have earned your holiday. Don’t be tempted to take a scrap of work with you. If you do take anything you’ll feel guilty all the time, feeling that you need to spend some time on whatever it is.
If you are at home, take time to do things that you enjoy, take a nap or swim to make you feel as though you are on holiday.
Don’t schedule meetings on the first day of your return. You’ll feel stressed a couple of days before you get back having to prepare for the meeting. Rather glide in gradually upon your return and get in touch with everyone you deal with before the year takes off at a blast.
If you really want peace and quiet, you need to unplug to reconnect. Distance yourself of the constant electronic onslaught on your time by, e.g. face book and e-mails, whilst on holiday.
I understand that it is fun taking photos to share your vacation with friends and family, but before you know it you’ll have spent a long time reconnecting with everyone, instead of living and enjoying the moment with the people that really matter.
Turn off all electronic devices and let your family know where they can reach you in case of emergencies. Before smart devices, we couldn’t reach the universe at the touch of the button and were no worse off! Our families could still reach us by phone or left messages at the reception at hotels if there was anything urgent.
The most enjoyable part about holidays is, that you can get up later, eat when you like, and mostly do what you like when you like! It is quite amazing if you don’t watch the time and don’t schedule every minute of the day how you actually lose track of time and relax much more! Go on slow walks, life is not a race!
Time to relax
Balance your time between being active, resting and enjoying the simple pleasure of just to be. It is extremely difficult to rest when you go to foreign destinations, as you want to see and do everything you possibly can, which unfortunately can lead to burnout and not necessarily reduce stress and making you feel de-stressed on your return.
Be kind to yourself and remember to take some time out.
“How on earth”, you say,” if you have young children?” Well, book them into holiday activities, so that you can have some time on your own, to relax, to read or to do something you really like, without having to supervise the kids. Book an au-pair for an evening so that you can have a special dinner or go to watch your favourite show.
You can take turns to sleep late, while one spouse goes out with the kids, allowing the other some well deserved rest. There is no rule that states, that everybody has to be around every minute of the day, for it to be a special vacation, sometimes it is good that the children spend special time with either parent to strengthen bonds or to just slow down and relax. Look at the clouds, take a nap, listen to the birds and smell the air.
Go with the flow! Do nothing, eat, drink wine and enjoy the moment.