Given the last couple years, most are eagerly planning or going on vacation. Have you found your mind drafting back to work (e.g., worrying about the emails and tasks piling up in your absence), which interferes with your well-deserved time-off? Does it take awhile for your mind to get into vacation/relaxation mode? If you relate to this, you are definitely not the only one.
Many are experiencing this due to our society and how it functions. There is a constant need to stay busy and valuing efficiency in work over taking care of one’s overall well-being, including taking breaks/vacations. People are not evolved to work 24/7 all year round even if you enjoy your career. People are not robots. Those who spend most of their time in work usually experience burnout (read more here), and it starts to impact overall health, including mental/physical health.
Work-life balance has been touted on/off as a method to combat burnout and consequences of overworking. There is a bit of misunderstanding embedded in the term itself since one’s current work-life balance will likely not stay stagnant forever. What we mean is… there are certain periods in your life, where you may have to dedicate more time to work, especially as a young professional, but it does not mean this should be a model for the rest of your life.
What you prioritize or deem important overtime can and will change, which will impact your work-life balance. It is normal and healthy for the balance to shift over time. The important part is being flexible and accepting/adjusting the balance as you go through life.
Initial Steps Towards Enjoying Your Vacation
You may or may not have heard these tips before. If you haven’t, we encourage you to think about implementing these tips to help you start enjoying your vacation. This will likely take several tries since it involves unlearning prioritizing work/efficiency over rest. Rest is a significant part of being a healthy human being. If you are interested in learning more about rest as part of self-care, feel free to click here.
Be understanding of yourself, so don’t criticize yourself if your mind drifts back to work. Transitions are not easy for our bodies. It might take some time to shift into vacation mode
Turn off or put work-related communications, including texts, calls, and emails, on silent/do not disturb mode
If this is difficult for you, inform your boss/coworkers before your time-off that you will not have access to those electronic communications. And, you will follow-up when you get back
Acknowledge work will always be there. There will always be things to do. Work does not define your life unless you want it to
Be mindful of the place around you even if you are taking a staycation. Try to be present-focused. This is training your mind to take in the moment instead of feeling anxious/nervous about the future. It helps slow down your mind, i.e., thoughts. If you are interested in reading more, feel free to click here
Plan activities, including seeing/doing something you haven’t done before, and remember to intersperse rest times in between
This can help you with mindfulness and distracting you from thinking about work
At the end of the day, breaks help our overall wellbeing since work usually comes with stress… it does not matter what career you are in. Our bodies do not function well under long-term stress. In reality, it is actually harmful to our bodies. Everyone needs a break every now and then. Being able to enjoy one’s time off helps us be better people in all aspects of life, including as an employee, friend, and/or family member.
If you want mental health support in your journey, feel free to contact us through our site.
Stay tuned. The next topic is "Mental Health While Working Remotely."
Written by Elena Duong, Psy.D.
Edited by Susanna La, Ph.D.