Everyone knows it’s good to take time off and relax. But many American workers don’t take all the time off they have coming to them. Employees who avoid rest and relaxation may be hurting themselves and experience burnout, reduced productivity and creativity, troubled relationships, stress, or stress-related ailments.
So how can you prepare for your time off and make it as stress-free as possible?
Be thoughtful about what kind of vacation you and your family will most enjoy. If flying makes you anxious, plan a road trip instead. If your toddler screams when trapped in a car seat more than 20 minutes, choose a child-friendly base at a nearby destination.
Mind your budget.
A vacation you can’t really afford will increase your stress, not decrease it. Check out state and national parks, or rent a cabin by the lake. If money’s really tight, play tourist in your own backyard. Plan a scenic hike one day and visit a local art museum the next.
Prepare in advance at work.
A little prep work before your vacation can make your return much more worry-free. A few helpful tips: tell key co-workers and clients two weeks before that you will be out of the office, and ask if there is anything they need. Don’t book anything important the day before you leave or the day of your return to the office. About a month before you leave, figure out what needs to be completed before you depart. Tackle those tasks over the month.
Know when to go.
If you’re driving, check weather and traffic reports, and avoid traveling during rush hour traffic or bad weather. Thinking of flying? Check international travel advisories and live flight data. (Be sure to take a look at these Transportation Security Administration tips for getting through security faster.)
Try to unplug.
Working remotely is great, but it’s not a vacation. If you know you’ll be tempted to check your email five times a day, leave your phone and laptop at home. If you must check email or voicemail, limit catching up on emails to a specific time of day and length of time, say 30 minutes in the evening.
Flight delays, missing luggage, traffic jams, and flat tires – On a vacation, there are a number of things that can go wrong. But you don’t have to let travel hiccups ruin your trip; chalk them up to the experience of travel and try to find the bright side. Flight delay? Catch up on some reading or do some airport shopping.