All too often I hear people say “I need a vacation from my vacation.”
This typically means that they don’t feel rested and are perhaps stressed when returning to work. Some even surmise that an extended vacation (to another city or country) is not really worth it, so why bother – just take a few extra three-day weekends.
We all need a vacation and time away from our work regardless of how long or how far.
Maybe you’re worried about coming back to problems or failed systems, or maybe deep down you’re concerned about what others will think.
A recent study showed that people who take vacations are looked at favorably by their colleagues and are more likely to get promotions.
Why? It shows that they care about themselves and will take the time to recharge so that they can be more productive.
Let me share with you some of the things that worked for me this summer when I took a month-long vacation with my family to Greece. My goal is to share some tips and approaches to find rest and come back more productive from your next vacation.
Planning is the single most important thing you can do to ensure that you have a pleasant, restful vacation.
This starts with who is going, where you’re going, and what are you going to do when you get there. Everyone is different and enjoys a different pace, including planned or unplanned activities and experiences. The single most important thing you can do when putting together an itinerary is to be honest with yourself and whoever you will travel with and share your needs (I hope that one of those needs is to rest).
Rest is more than sleep, although many of us are sleep deprived and the first few days of a vacation can help us tell our bodies we can relax. The rest I sought this summer was a more holistic rest (mind, body, soul) which I hoped would lead to more creativity (daydreaming), light-heartedness (laughing), and connectedness with family and my faith (feasting).
Long before the vacation started, my coach helped me think through what it would mean to be intentional about finding rest in a holistic way. I was asked to describe what I wanted, why it was important to me, and what it might look like. This helped me become more clear and intentional in my vacation. One mantra for my trip was to be humorous or light-hearted (see this picture of me in a silly pose for a picture with my daughter).
So, what does rest look like for you on vacation?
This can be difficult and you need to be aware when you’re being pulled away from your intentions. If you are feeling guilty or uncomfortable having fun or doing nothing at all, this is an internal red flag to be aware of. In my case, I did not want to feel like I was being irresponsible leaving work projects behind. I knew it would be impossible not to check my email at some point. So, my coach helped me create a plan and schedule that worked.
I intentionally planned the first week I would not check emails or be available for work-related conversations. However, I did schedule limited times to check emails and communications for the remainder of the trip. My clients and partners understood and respected this. This freed me up to know there would be a time to check on things and a time to cut things off. Thanks also to my coworker Cass who covered for me!
Be sure that you set the boundaries and conditions to stay restful and fully present on your vacation.
My final tip helps you return refreshed. Assuming that you’ve found some rest on your vacation, you need to give yourself the time and permission to express what that was like for yourself and share with others. Take the time to process ideas, feelings and experiences, then discover a way to remind yourself of that so you are more likely to want to go on vacation again. For me, this showed up as gratitude and appreciation for my life, health and family. I shared that with them and it blessed us all. I also have a souvenir magnet on the fridge.
Give yourself 2-3 days to reflect and ease back into your normal routines and work.
I hope that this article helps you be intentional about finding rest on your next vacation and coming back to work refreshed and inspired.
How did you make your last vacation feel restful and worthwhile (and where are you looking to go next)?