As the summer heat continues to rise and rumblings of back-to-school are upon us, taking that last summer vacation is becoming a hot topic. Whether you’re enjoying some much-deserved time off now or saving it for later this year, it’s important to make your vacation days count, whenever and wherever they may be. All too often we schedule to take time off from work, but when the time comes, we don’t really allow ourselves to truly unplug and enjoy the time.
Putting work aside during your vacation time can be easier said than done. However, taking advantage of earned time off is important and beneficial to both your physical and mental health. Use your vacation as a time to rest, relax and regroup. Leave the stress and obligations of the office at your desk and do your best to be completely present during your time away. Having a mindful vacation means stepping away from any projects, deadlines, and yes, even emails during your time away from work. How do you successfully have a mindful vacation? Here are some tips.
Prepare ahead of time: Do your best to wrap up or find a good stopping point on any projects before you head out. Communicate to your coworkers well in advance that you’ll be out of the office so your time off doesn’t negatively affect anyone else’s workflow. Lastly, set an automatic away message before you leave. That way, if someone tries to contact you, they’ll quickly be informed of your absence and when you’ll return. Taking proactive steps helps ensure you can confidently and responsibly take a break from your work.
Unplug while you’re out: Continuing to work while you’re on vacation defeats the purpose of your earned days off. While it may not be possible to completely disconnect, do your best to not check emails or other work-related items, especially if you communicated your planned absence thoroughly beforehand. If being totally unavailable makes you uncomfortable or isn’t feasible, offer to be available by cell phone or at a specified time of the day if something urgent arises. Then, your coworkers can honor your time off unless it’s absolutely necessary to contact you. Unplugging and disconnecting from your job for a little while allows you to not only fully enjoy your vacation, but also decompress from any built-up stress.
Submerse yourself: The busyness of work life often leaves little room for new experiences or adventures. During your earned time off, try new things you wouldn’t normally have time for. If you’re taking a trip, make an effort to connect with the people, culture and spaces around you. It’s not every day that you get to go somewhere new or even somewhere you’ve been before, so immerse yourself and be present in everything that you do. If you’re enjoying a stay-cation, check out a new spot you haven’t visited before or eat at a new restaurant. Trying new things and submersing yourself into different experiences is a great way to mindfully make the most of your time away. Oh, and take lots of pictures so you can show your coworkers when you get back.
Just like you make your career a priority, make enjoying some time away from it a priority as well. Whenever and wherever you decide to vacation, be sure to remain present and try not to think or worry about work while you’re out. There’s always time to work and always more work to be done, so take advantage of an approved and encouraged recess.
Remaining mindful while you’re gone can help you make the most of your vacation, while recharging your batteries and regaining momentum for when you return. Turn off your email notifications, shut down your laptop and enjoy; you’ll be back on the job before you know it!