Holidays are an important break away from day-to-day routine. Yet sometimes preparing for time away, or just time off work can make you feel more anxious. We look at how you can avoid stress during what should be relaxing and enjoyable times of the year.
If you're feeling stressed out at work, the cure is obvious – you need a holiday! Sometimes, though, preparing for your time off can be just as stressful as being in the office. Holidays need to be carefully planned for in order to deliver the rest and relaxation that they promise. Here are ways to avoid stress when planning your next break!
If you’re going away
Don’t leave packing until the last minute
In the days and weeks leading up to a vacation, you're probably putting in extra hours at the office, trying to clear your workload before you fly off. Don't forget, however, to set aside some time to pack. Nothing is more stressful to a vacationer than landing in a foreign land and finding out he's short of toiletries, medicine, electronics or clothes.
Make a list well ahead of time so you can pack efficiently and in an organized fashion. Start packing as early as possible – don't just fling things into your suitcase the night before you flight.
If you're travelling with a friend or partner, communication is key to preventing squabbles from ruining your time away. Remember that you and your travel buddy don't have to do everything together. If you prefer to head to the beach and soak up the sun while your partner would much rather spend the day in an art gallery, plan for these periods of "alone time" so that both of you can get the most out of your well-earned holiday.
For those about to embark on a family trip, get your kids involved in the planning process. Let each member of the family choose a couple of activities so it's fair to everyone. And make sure there's at least a few days when the whole family is doing one activity together, so you don't miss out on that precious family bonding time.
Plan for time away from work
You don't want to be checking your phone every ten minutes when you're away. That's why it's essential to plan ahead. Make sure that your manager and colleagues know well in advance that you're taking a vacation and can plan for your absence, delegating your workload accordingly.
And once the holiday begins, try to only check your work messages for a set time period each day. There's no point wasting precious annual leave if you're going to be sending emails all day long. Set aside some time in the morning or at night to check updates from work and stick to those strict limits.
If you’re staying at home
You don't have to get on a plane to enjoy a holiday. Staying put at home can help you recharge and revitalize yourself, helping you rediscover some of the comforts that you've missed out on thanks to your hectic work life. Here are some suggestions.
- Play at being a tourist in your own country. Go to some local attractions you wouldn't normally visit – you might just discover a hidden gem.
- Theatre and movie tickets, museum passes and fancy meals are generally cheaper on weekday mornings and afternoons when most people are at work. Make the most of it.
- Learn a new recipe and take the time to enjoy your home-cooked meal. The slow food movement, which began in Italy in the 1980s, was a direct response to fast food culture and its perceived links to stress levels and poor health. The theory goes that if you learn to really savor your meal, you'll learn to enjoy life at the same time
- Exercise. It can be difficult to set aside time for exercise during a busy work day, so take full advantage of your time off by getting active. Try not to spend too much time indoors – you've probably had enough of being behind closed doors during your time at the office. Go out for a jog or a hike and enjoy the fresh air. Have a lie-in and catch up on sleep – it's your holiday, after all!
Staying in the holiday mood
If you thrust yourself right back into 16-hour working days and relentless stress after coming back from your break, you'll risk burning out. While it's important to work hard and further your career, you need to be able to live life in the slow lane too.
Even if you're not on holiday, here are some things you can do to summon the holiday mood and get into a relaxed state of mind.
- Write a letter to your loved ones. Putting pen to paper makes your messages far more meaningful, and your friends and family will undoubtedly appreciate it.
- Take a walk instead of driving or taking public transport. It'll help you appreciate nature, discover new parts of your neighborhood and adopt a slower pace of life.
- Try to rely less on technology. Smartphones and the Internet are great for productivity, but they also make it harder to get some "me time" and just learn to enjoy your own company. Literally "unplugging" from the digital world can do wonders for your mental well-being!