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WORK-LIFE BALANCE / OCT. 16, 2014
version 6, draft 6

How to Make Vacation Work for You

vacation
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"I think it may be time for you to take some time off," these words can cut deeply- especially for those who proudly consider themselves workaholics. Whether it’s your mum or your boss, coworkers or spouse; hearing you may need some time off can strike a chord and make you feel like you haven’t been performing up to snuff. 

STOP. It may not mean this at all. If you’re putting your all into your work 24/7 365, the need to slow down may become detrimental to your work-life balance and physical health. Loss of sleep and appetite, constantly building anxiety, and a feeling of general morose could spell trouble down the road. These are tell-tale signs of looming burnout. So don’t get snippy, book a trip; you’re brain, body, and spirit will thank you...

Get Your "House in Order"

After you book your trip, take some time to get your house in order. This means taking the time to complete tasks and projects, delegating your day to day duties to others, and letting clients know you will be away for a few days while providing them with an alternative contact. Staying organized can help reduce the stress of the "before vaca scramble," but if you allow yourself a good amount of time before you leave, preparing your house should go relatively smoothly.

Master Rest

The ability to rest properly is in fact a skill. Though sitting on the couch with your favorite book or to watch some tube may not seem complicated - it in fact is. How many times do you check your phone, email, and task schedule while attempting to "rest." Rest is actually much more than the absence of work, it is an active and complete "stopping" of duties in an effort to recover from stressors we face multiple times a day.

Avoid Negative Work Reflection

Your time off is sacred. Experts like Sabine Sonnetag have found that negative work reflection while on vacation or during times of designated times of rest can completely inhibit the benefits of rest. A few ways to avoid negative work reflection during your vacation an include meditation before heading out and during your fun in the sun, taking part in activities you thoroughly enjoy or are interested in trying, and spending time with your loved ones. Taking time to reflect on positive aspects of your job can also help fight negative reflection and also help you see work tasks and problems from a better prospective. 

Get off the Go-Go

After a day or two on your vacation, you may have gotten work off your mind; however, your brain is trained to constantly be worrying about the next task. So instead of contemplating work, you may find yourself rushing through activities and be in an endless loop of, "what are we doing next?" This is the second phase of reaching true relaxation, stopping the go-go-go attitude. Take it down a notch by forgoing your itinerary and fitting in some relaxing exercise like a long slow walk down the beach or taking a soak in the sea. Do not, however, go to the gym and do 600 squats; the winding down exercises activities are more like "cool downs", not rev ups.

When Vacationing at Home...

Vacationing at home can be the most difficult, especially for those who have a home office. But don’t fret, the same rules apply. But if you feel like looming house projects are weighing you down, try focusing on a hobby you may have neglected rather than painting the kitchen or retiling the bathroom. Learning at a slow pace can promote positive cognitive reactions and help you relax. So grab your six string, bang on the drums, or tear into that mini model hotrod you got for Christmas last year - and remember to tell the task master in your head you’re "currently unreachable."

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