Our already stressful lives have become even more so in the past several months, and our lives seem to be overflowing with more and more things to do. While taking time off might feel counterintuitive to getting things done, the fact of the matter is that taking time to rest and recharge can help you be more productive.
But with so many of us working from home, we’re even more plugged in than usual, and the line between work and home life has become more of a big, ever-stretching gray area. It doesn’t feel like any of us truly get time off anymore, so we have to work harder than ever to create those boundaries, especially when we take time off.
Here are some ways you can better enjoy your time off.
Let’s get the most challenging step out of the way first. For people to respect your time off, you need to respect it first. And when you respect it, you’ll feel more resolute about setting boundaries and sticking to them.
Be sure to let clients and coworkers know well in advance that you will be taking time off and that you’ll be out of pocket entirely. If they need anything done before you leave, they have until a set date to let you know that—otherwise, they will have to wait until you get back.
Perhaps the most formidable boundaries to set are with friends and family. If they hear you’re going to have time off, prepare yourself for requests for your time now that you’re free. Saying no, even to loved ones, is not only okay, but it’s also necessary. This is your time.
When you set this boundary, follow through with it! Saying no is hard, but feeling stressed and burned out is even harder. You have to choose your level of hard.
Unplug and Disconnect
If your job requires that you’re plugged in, whether it’s email, calls, texts, or social media, you’re going to have to disconnect to get the most out of your vacation. Whether you delete apps, shut off notifications, or remove account logins, be sure that you will not have any work interruptions while you’re out.
For your personal accounts, take a step back as well. Social media can be filled with so much negativity, so taking time away can help to refresh your outlook on friends, family, and life. When you catch yourself reaching for your phone or tablet, pause and get up. Take a walk or find something fun to fill your time instead.
Remind yourself that nobody is going to die (in 99.99% of cases) if you don’t answer your messages. This is your time, and you are the most important person in your world on your days off.
Connect to Family and Friends
Now that’ you’ve unplugged your digital life, you can strengthen connections to your family and friends. When you’re working nonstop, these connections can feel even more stressful and as if they’re work. This is because you’re in a constant state of overload, and your cup runneth over with communication.
Put away your phone, turn off the TV, and enjoy that time with your loved ones. In our family, we call this FFF (forced family fun), and while we joke about it, it’s so enjoyable. Talk, get cheesy, go do things. No matter what it is, that time is meaningful and precious, and you’ll never forget this time you had together.
Give Yourself Permission to do Nothing
In this constant state of go, go, go, we don’t feel right when we’re still. It feels as if we’re anticipating the next email or phone call or task on the to-do list. Unwinding and feeling okay with that is incredibly difficult for any length of time.
But you need to do it! This is your time to rest and recharge, so be selfish about this time. If you’ve been dying just to read a book, do it. If you’ve regretted not being able to do something creative, do that. We don’t care if you do nothing but play video games all weekend! Whatever your heart has been craving, follow that path and go for it.
The most important thing to do when you finally get that hard-won vacation time is to refill your creative and emotional wells. Give yourself permission to do nothing or to indulge in all the other things you’ve missed doing…as long as you don’t wear yourself out trying to do it all!
Quell the End-of-Vacation Dread
As the end of your vacation draws near, your anxiety can rise as you anticipate going back to work. This is completely normal! But rather than let it taint your final days of rest, try to acknowledge it and then move forward to something enjoyable.
Worrying about clients and projects isn’t going to give you the time off you deserve. Remember that you have an awesome team handling these things for you while you’re away. And that yes, things do go wrong while you’re not there to manage them. This time off is exactly what you need to better deal with these issues when you return to work.
Work can wait. Your wellbeing cannot.
Learning to enjoy your time off is something you will have to get used to. Relaxing isn’t something that comes easily for so many of us, but with some conscious effort, you will learn to do it and enjoy it.
In the comments, share your favorite ways to unwind and enjoy your time off!