Kristin Dye May 21, 2018

How to Take a Guilt-Free Vacation

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Working too much can stress you out, and prolonged stress correlates with anxiety, depression, impaired cognitive function, weight gain, memory loss, heart disease, and more. (Yikes, that sounds like the side effects of a medication that are rattled off in a commercial.) Are you bored, stressed, easily distracted from your duties, or just feeling hamstrung? This means you need to take a vacation. Badly.

This can be:

  • A Big Trip – A week or more to a faraway destination. This takes a lot of planning ahead of time. Research shows that the excitement of even just planning a vacation helps boost your immune system.
  • A Short Trip – A 3-day weekend, or a road trip. If you don’t have a week, take a few days to see the sights in your own state or a neighboring one.
  • A Staycation – Stay home, but relax, play, or tackle a big project that you’ve really wanted to get done.

Admitting that you are burnt out and need a vacation does not imply that you don’t like your job. Vacation is meant for you to recharge, forget about your career for a while and do things you possibly haven’t been able to do lately. We are better employees or business owners when we take a break from the constant worries and issues of the company we work for. Especially for those people who own their own business.

Ask many a CEO and they will say they don’t have time to take a vacation. And, when they do go somewhere it’s usually a trip to visit family, an “oblication”, because otherwise they wouldn’t take the time to be gone from the office. But, the truth is, everyone does better when they are present at work IF they manage to get away periodically to reset the brain and get recharged. Even the boss.

A few things NOT to do:

Overtime Overkill

Really try not to kill yourself with overtime prior to your trip, so you can get every little thing done. It is certainly worthwhile to get some of your work done ahead of time, so you can really check-out for a bit. If you are lucky enough to have someone in the same position at work as you are, make a deal with them to cover each other’s duties while out on vacation. Then make sure to do it for them when they go somewhere! Also, make sure you let your clients know that you’ll be out. They won’t pass judgment, more than likely they will be envious, and they will know to ease up on the phone calls and emails while you are gone. Also, set your out of office message on your email.

Buffet All-Day

Don’t completely ruin your eating habits while vacationing. I know this seems like a great time to just go all-out and eat and drink everything in sight, but you will come home regretting your debauchery. If you’ve been watching your weight, or sticking to a healthy eating plan, try and stay somewhat within those guidelines. Of course, have that poolside Pina Colada if that will truly make you happy, but you don’t need to have 10 of them. Also, make sure you drink plenty of water on vacation. Even if you are so good at drinking enough water during your work week (wait, let me take a quick chug from my S’well bottle) sometimes we forget our good habits while on vacation.

Serial Photographer

Don’t feel like you need to take pictures of everything and everywhere you go. Try to enjoy the moments without a camera/cell phone in front of your face (see digital detox, below). Your brain will remember all the good times and you can always Google a picture of the Napali Coast if you can’t remember what it looked like. But, trust me, you will remember it.

Ready to Kick Back – A few things to do:

Digital Detox

Make sure to do a digital detox. This means leave your cell phone/tablet in your hotel room safe or at least have it turned off in your backpack or purse – and only use it in case of emergency (and really, just in case of emergency! Checking Instagram does not qualify as an emergency). This will probably be the biggest hurdle, we are so used to having our phones either up to our faces or at least next to us or in our hand always. Look, where is your phone right now? Yep, told you. Enjoy your destination and your companion(s) company.

Ditch the Alarm Clock

Sometimes there are planned activities that you need to get up early for, but otherwise, sleep until your body naturally wakes up. It is a fabulous feeling and don’t be concerned you will sleep all day, more than likely, you won’t. Your body’s internal clock has been used to getting up when you normally do for work, so don’t be surprised if you wake up right around your normal alarm time. Close your eyes and relax, go back to sleep if you want!

Catch Some Z’s

Conversely, don’t stay up way past your normal bedtime too often, you’ll just be out of whack once you get home. A few late nights of dancing and cocktails won’t hurt you, but don’t make it a nightly habit. You will regret it once you get home and are ready to get back to work.

Fitness Fun

Remember to get exercise on vacation. Don’t go to a beach and then literally sit on the beach all day. You need to get up, swim or just splash around in the water. Hike, walk, or dance to keep your brain happy and burn off some of those extra calories you have been consuming. Hotels almost always have gyms, and resorts often have fun watersports to engage in.

Add a Plus One

If you can, take an extra day on the end of your trip so you can get back to your normal routine at home. Wash your dirty clothes, mow that overgrown lawn and hit the grocery store. You’ll be ready to dive back in at work the next day without stress.

I don’t know about you, but I work to live not live to work. Make sure you have balance in your life and you’ll be a happy and productive employee.

Now shoo! Get that vacation planned and GO RELAX.

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