YOUR VACATION SHOULD BE AN UNINTERRUPTED BREAK FROM EMAILS AND OFFICE POLITICS. BUT HAVE YOU EVER ACTUALLY PULLED THAT OFF?
With summer quickly approaching, many of us are preparing to take our hard-earned vacations. But if you've got a high-stress job, you might have this feeling that you can’t take your allotted Paid Time Off (PTO). According to a survey conducted by Glassdoor, the average U.S. employee only takes about half of their accrued PTO, and when employees do use it, three in five (61%) admit to engaging in work-related tasks.
It’s incredibly important to develop a healthy work-life balance, especially in demanding jobs. Managing stress effectively not only impacts your mental health but also improves your performance in day-to-day duties. We know all this. But how do you actually do it?
Here are some realistic tips to help you enjoy a stress-free vacation:
1. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN
Even if you're only gone for a long weekend. Even if it's quiet around the office this time of year. When you're planning your vacation time, remember that your schedule isn't the only one that matters. Make sure you plan your break so that you avoid super stressful times (maybe don't request a Monday off right before that big project deadline) and give plenty of notice—at least two weeks—so your manager can plan accordingly. Make sure to provide her with a list of issues that may come up during your absence and how to handle them if they do. Informing colleagues ahead of time that you will be gone reduces the probability that you'll get a hair-on-fire call from a coworker or boss while you're windsurfing in Maui.
2. CHECK EMAILS AT DESIGNATED TIMES
We all know it’s tempting to check email on vacation, especially if you get them on your iPhone. If you just can't unplug, try designating specific times for checking in. Turn off email notifications on your phone and set up an away message that states exactly how long you’ll be gone, when you'll check email, and an alternate person to contact in case of an emergency. As hard as it is to refrain from constantly peeking into your inbox, you’ll be much happier you weren't glued to a screen during your precious vacation time.
3. TAKE TIME TO CELEBRATE
If you're one of the majority, you're not taking all your available PTO. That means it's probably been a while since you've spent time truly relaxing. You might even feel uncomfortable being away from work and your usual schedule, but it’s so important to take advantage of your time off. So celebrate! Enjoy every moment you get to spend with your family, friends, and significant others. Engage in activities you don't normally have access to during a workday—and appreciate them. The most important tip for having a stress-free vacation? Live in the moment. Being present and taking your mind off work will really help you recharge before heading back to the daily grind.
4. DON'T STRESS YOURSELF OUT WHEN RETURNING TO WORK
Once you return from vacation, it's easy to stress out catching up on loads of emails and meetings. However, don’t let all of that get to you—set up a meeting with your manager to prioritize your tasks for the next couple of weeks, so you can ease back into work with some peace of mind.
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Vacation is an opportunity to recharge. Not taking advantage of your time off can hinder your performance and cause burnout, but with the proper planning and preparation beforehand, you can enjoy a stress-free holiday and return to work with a clean slate.
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What about you? Do you have a secret for actually turning off during a vacation?