Breaking Away: Preparing for a Restful Vacation




Everybody looks forward to vacation and the anticipation of a trip to the beach, the mountains or a different country. Vacations are important to our health and mental well-being. You need time away from the daily stresses of work and family life. Getting the rest and relaxation you need depends to a great extent on how thoroughly you prepare for that big trip. Failing to do so means you’ll probably carry work concerns along with you and spend precious vacation time worrying about what you didn’t get done before you left. 

It’ll be there when you return

There’s a tendency among some people to work furiously in the days leading up to vacation, trying to do too much and ramping up your pre-vacation stress to unhealthy levels. No matter how hard you try, the work’s always there waiting for you when you get back. It’ll pile up while you’re gone whether you’ve tried to work ahead or not. Try focusing on deadlines and the most pressing items on your to do list. Leave the stuff that can wait for when you get back. If all goes well, you’ll be rejuvenated and in a good productive state when you re-enter. Taking advantage of your time off will increase your productivity when you get back.

Set the contact ground rules

Remember, you’re going on vacation to relax and have a good time. Try to avoid checking with the office while you’re gone. And let your colleagues know that the only reason they should call you on vacation is if there’s a full-blown emergency. Avoid falling into the trap of exchanging emails, texts or calls every day you’re gone. That’s an invitation to get pulled into the very thing you need time away from. It’ll be impossible to relax and enjoy yourself if you’re worried every day about situations that can be resolved by co-workers. Set ground rules before you leave so your superiors and colleagues don’t get the impression you’ll be available every day.

Manage expectations

It’s natural and part of the fun to get excited about vacation as it gets closer. Anticipation is definitely part of the fun. But be careful not to overdo it with expectations that everything will go as you’d hoped. Anytime travel is involved, something can go wrong. A flight may be late, or you might miss a connection. Your car could break down, or you could get a flat tire. The weather may prevent you from going on that coveted fishing trip. Learn to roll with the punches by focusing on other activities if something falls through. Anyway, the important thing is to relax and unwind. 

Don’t squeeze in too much stuff

Avoid scheduling too many activities on vacation. You could end up wearing yourself out trying to keep up with your own schedule, or worse, not feel like you had a break at all. Arrange a few fun activities but work in plenty of down time as well. You might decide you like doing nothing so much that you’ll cancel your plans or redo your schedule. In fact, it’s been found that those who take breaks seriously are more productive overall.

Slowing your mind and body after months of chaos at work can be really difficult for many people. Try preparing yourself to make the mental switch to vacation mode starting a couple of days before you leave. Imagine yourself lying on the beach with a book and a cold drink, or doing some body surfing. Getting ready for vacation takes place in the mind as well.

Pack early

Avoid packing at the last minute, which is the perfect way to forget something important. Pack your camera, an extra pair of glasses and other important belongings days before your departure. Don’t forget to make arrangements to board your pets well ahead of time; many pet shelters book up weeks in advance. If that doesn’t work, try sweet-talking a friend or relative into watching your furry friend while you’re gone.

Vacation is important to your overall well-being, something that everyone needs. There’s a definite correlation between time off and productivity, so taking vacation will make you a better employee. It’s your reward for all that hard work.


Courtesy of