Have you ever been on vacation and were unable to relax? Vacations can reduce stress while you’re away, and may improve your life over the long term if you allow yourself to relax.
The whole point of taking time off is to achieve the calm, happy and energized (CHE) states of mind that make us most productive and effective both while we’re away and when we’re back in the office.
So how can you make sure that happens?
Not many of us realize that there is an “Out Of Office” signature we can use on our emails. (and if you did, well done!)
These special out-of-office messages are automatically sent to people who are sending you emails, letting them know you won’t be answering until later. For Gmail users, here is a guide.
Let people know when you’ll be back and where you’ll be going. No need for specifics like your hotel, but letting people know what city you’ll be in will help them with the next step.
In your out-of-office message, you can also ask if anyone would like to meet up there, or have suggestions for places to go. You may want to at least keep an eye out for these notifications, so shutting off your email won’t be on your list of vacation do’s.
This provides you with a chance to either meet or connect online, with people outside of a business setting.
A relaxing atmosphere can grow more than just a new relationship, but it can build trust and friendship which can be helpful later on.
How To Really Enjoy Your Vacation?
So how do you take a vacation, de-stress, and have the effects linger more than a day or two?
Make sure it’s relaxing:
The only vacationers in the Netherlands study who saw a boost in happiness were those who reported feeling “very relaxed” on their vacation. If you’re traveling with young kids (though it may be better not to), consider enrolling them in half-day camps or arranging for a babysitter in the evenings so you have time to relax.
Create a vacation that fits your personal style.
Think about what you love to do, not what you should do. Some people love thrill-seeking vacations, others love exploring and some love just lounging on the beach. If the vacation doesn’t fit, it may increase, not lower stress.
“Alternate your time between staying active and resting,” says Robinson. Activity raises feel-good endorphins while quieting your mind reduces levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol.
Take several mini-vacations:
Since the study showed that people get a mood boost out of planning and anticipating vacations, having several trips throughout the year may raise your overall happiness quotient higher than if you just have one vacation and then there’s nothing to look forward to until next year.
Take vacations during major holidays:
Such as the Fourth of July or in August, when many people are away and the workload is usually lighter, so you’re less worried about work piling up while you’re away.
Delegate work before you leave:
Since completely disconnecting from the office might be more stressful for some people, allow yourself to check voice mail and email under strict time limits, say one hour a day.
Buffer your vacation:
“Don’t work right up until the moment you leave and head back to work right off the bat,” says Robinson. “If possible, schedule an extra day off before you depart and another when you come back to dive back in slowly,” he says.
Did you take a relaxing vacation this summer, and what tactics helped lower your stress?