No matter what part of the world you work in, we all have at least one thing in common--vacation days. Unfortunately, some of us take better advantage of our time off than others. According to Business Insider, some areas of the world are “vacation-deprived,” taking fewer than 10 vacation days per year on average. Stress, fatigue and depression are by-products of a centuries-old work ethic that impacts the working world in many ways. Elevated levels of stress and fatigue are the most recognizable consequences, but an inability to leave work behind manifests in other ways.
When vacation time does come, many are simply unable to leave it behind, either because of workload or a fearful compulsion to keep pace when they’re away from the office. Whatever the reason, those who insist on working while on vacation defeat the purpose of getting away to relax and clear their minds of day-to-day worries that create stress. The time off becomes yet another work day, with the beautiful setting around you becoming invisible as your nose is buried in a work email or you stand in the corner talking business on the phone.
Taking accumulated vacation time during the Christmas holiday lets you get away from it all at a time of year when activity at most businesses is at a low ebb. And you can work in a few extra days by combining paid holidays with vacation time.
Allowing yourself to disengage from work while you’re away has several important benefits. You’ll return refreshed and with a new perspective on things, better equipped to come up with solutions to new problems than before you left. Turning off the phone and ignoring emails will make it clear to co-workers that you expect to be left alone on vacation. People will have more regard for your time. Plus, it is more than okay to simply say ‘no.’ This is your time, and you are in no way obligated to do anything work-related. You aren’t on the clock, remember?
Taking time off around the holidays can deter others from disrupting you because so many of your colleagues and customers are taking vacation time themselves. Taking time away seriously makes it more fun and fulfills the objectives of any vacation: to get away from it all and relax. And don’t downplay the importance of vacation to your family, where mom and dad don’t disappear in the afternoon for a couple of hours to deal with a few work problems.
Of course, you can make it easier on yourself by laying the groundwork for a carefree vacation. Trust those who report to you - you hired them for a good reason, so let them carry the ball just for a while. Make sure your coworkers know where key files are, what meetings you’ll be missing and which deadlines need to be moved back. That way, you’re covered and less likely to get a frantic call from your supervisor while you’re busy getting a tan. That’s a worst case scenario for anyone who looks forward to visiting great beaches at places like Alabama’s Gulf Coast or Florida’s Destin or Panama City beaches.
Make it clear to everyone that the Christmas holiday is about family, and that you expect to be left alone. You’ll probably find that most people are of the same mind. And have the courage to ignore your laptop and smartphone. Better yet, leave your computer at home so you’ll be less likely to give in and spend precious time checking in with the office. To avoid feeling guilty for not responding to emails and phone calls, set an away message letting everyone know that you are currently on vacation. Give them the contact information for the person they should reach out to if it is an emergency, as well as let them know when you expect to be back in the office. With all your bases covered, you can truly sit back and relax.
Travel can leave people recovering from addiction and alcohol abuse vulnerable to temptations in a new place. It’s important to plan ahead before leaving on vacation. You need to make sure that there’s an easy way to exit negative environments quickly, and that you’re equipped to handle an emergency. Make sure you have a sponsor’s contact information with you, just in case.
The bottom line is that vacation should be time away from the stresses and frustrations of everyday life, especially during the holiday season. If you allow work to enter into your vacation, you’re likely to create work for yourself when you should be relaxing. Do yourself and those you love a big favor: leave it at the office. It might be difficult at first, and at times you’ll find your mind wandering back to the office. The office will still be there when you get back, trust me, so embrace the time away so you can return back to the daily grind refocused, relaxed, and ready to go.
Henry is the co-creator of FitWellTraveler. The site blends two of his favorite subjects (travel and health) to provide readers with information about how to get the most out of both.
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