Regardless of whether your summer travel plans call for camping in the wild, whitewater rafting down a raging river or taking a road trip, one objective should be to disconnect from the hustle and bustle back home and really get away from it all.
If the very thought of unplugging from your workplace causes you to break out in a cold sweat, remember: Disconnection is key to full relaxation. Numerous scientific studies have shown that people who take vacations are less likely to suffer from depression and report higher levels of overall happiness than people who don't.
The truth is, over time, our physical and mental health deteriorates if we don't take time to decompress and slow down. This hampers our ability to be effective players at work and can cramp our personal lives as well. So start by thinking of your vacation as an investment in your well-being, then follow these ten tips on how to prepare to go on vacation.
1. Don't leave important, must-get-done projects to the last minute. You risk not getting them finished and having them mentally weigh you down during your "off time" - or worse: working on them while you are supposed to be relaxing.
2. Select someone as your contact person who can address important issues and emergencies while you're gone. Brief her/him - and your boss - about any potential issues that may arise.
3. If you are closing your office and everyone will be leaving, let your key clients know how long you will be away. Provide the names and contact information of people your clients can reach out to if they need a resource. Leave your cell number on your email away message or cell phone voice mail saying that you can be reached if (and I mean only if) there is an emergency. I have done this fo r the last ten years and, so far, no one has called.
4. Never officially come back on a Monday. Make your re-entry easier by officially starting on a Tuesday. Use Monday for catch-up and prepare a cheat sheet ahead of time with a reminder list of to-do's to be completed immediately upon your return.
5. Once you have your work responsibilities covered, you can begin to get in the vacation frame of mind.Quietly ask yourself what you need to do to get the highest level of benefit from your vacation, and set realistic expectations for your time away. For example: It may take you a day or so to decompress. Don't try to force the relaxation; instead, ease into it.
6. Facilitate your decompression by pampering yourself a bit ahead of time. Indulge in a pre-vacation massage, golf game or long lunch - anything that helps you get into relaxation mode. Invest in a haircut, manicure, pedicure, etc. so that you can feel confident and spoiled.
7. If you're taking a stay-at-home vacation, otherwise known as a "staycation", keep the vacation mode alive and well by keeping yourself from over-planning activities. For example: Don't make hard labor projects at home, like building a new kitchen, one of your staycation goals. Instead make your time at home unstructured. Watch that movie tha t's been sitting by the TV for weeks, sit back and read a book, spend hours pursuing your hobby. Do what you always want to do but never seem to have time for.
8. One of the easiest things to do, yet one of the most often forgotten, is to arrange for someone to check your mail and pick up newspapers while you are away. This prevents would-be thieves from knowing you're not home.
9. Pack smart by keeping the small details in mind, and make sure to take items that tend to be more expensive at vacation resorts, such as sunblock, toothpaste and aspirin.
10. Save money by booking a suite:An extra-large hotel room might seem pricey, but it's often the best deal for a big family. Ask about the availability of sleeper sofas and rollaways if you need additional beds.
11. Recent research shows that, to be the most satisfying, leisure time should resemble the best aspects of work: challenges, skills and important relationships. Do some research and identify the types of activities you might want to do on your trip such as golfing, sailing, biking or hiking. What family fun is available? If you think vegging out is a vacation, you may be sh ortchanging yourself. Oftentimes, keeping your mind occupied will be easier than just trying to instantly tune out.
12. Lastly, when on the actual vacation itself, be sure to avoid multitasking. Being on the beach while texting does not make for a true vacation. And please don't rush throughyour plans. The idea is to enjoy your vacation in a leisurely ma nner and not race through it as if you were running a marathon. Instead, create a loose schedule whereby everyone gets to do what they want to do and ends up satisfied with the time off.
You need and deserve to tune out once in a while. This prevents you from hitting a wall in your job when there is no break. Remember, when you look back at your life, it's not going to be what you missed at work during your vacation you'll think about - but the memories made from quality time away. On that note, upon your return, keep your memories alive by framing photos of your vacation. Let the joy of your vacation be remembered in special places in your home and office.
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