Taking a holiday is not what it used to be. The volume of work, the nature of emails, our hyper-connectedness, and the expectations others have (or, that we think they have), make it hard to really switch off, relax and enjoy our time away. The stress people feel about the amount of work that will await them on their return is one major reason people don’t take leave. For others, it is the amount of work that they need to do before they leave that increases stress and makes holidaying less enjoyable.
As I am about to go on long service leave, I thought it was a good time to think about how to do our breaks well.
For what it’s worth, my tip is to have an ‘out of office email message’ that indicates that the sender will need to resend their message after you return, as you may not be able to respond otherwise. When you get back, do a very quick scan and ruthlessly delete as much as you can. I find this only takes me about 2 hours and leaves me with very few emails that require a response. And if you have email on your phone, delete the work account while you are away, and turn off notifications for other work-related apps like WhatsApp.
Here are four great articles from the Egyptians that explore this topic and offer some really good advice.
How to Minimize Stress Before, During, and After Your Vacation
Tristan Elizabeth Gribbin
You plan a vacation to relax, rejuvenate, and forget all about the stresses of work. But being out of the office can mean doing a mountain of extra work both before and after, so taking a vacation often doesn’t reduce our stress. You can avoid this problem by ruthlessly prioritizing, over-communicating, and handing off key projects. Tell people you will be completely off the grid while you’re away. When you’re on vacation, truly unplug, and when you come back give yourself some extra time to get settled.
How to Take a Relaxing Vacation Without Stressing About Work
A 2018 survey from the American Psychological Association (APA) found that 21% of U.S. adults felt stressed during their time off and 28% worked more than they thought they would on vacation — and this can have detrimental effects. Share your plans before you leave. Do away with checking emails and messages, even if it is just out of curiosity. Get outdoors, as this is the best environment in which to reduce stress and anxiety, and to boost your overall mental well-being. Think about how you relax when you’re not on vacation, then make sure to integrate those activities into your days. Plan your re-entry to work well before you leave.
How To Disconnect from Work While on Vacation
Plan to do something different and keep really occupied during your break, especially initially. Our inability to do two things at once, especially when something is new, means that work will quickly slips from your mind as you become caught up in the moment. Rather than working flat out to finish things before you travel, plan to slow down so that you are rested before you leave (try blocking out a day or two before your break and keep them free of meetings and appointments, so that you have more time to finish things off).
Take Short Vacations. Long Ones Are Too Stressful
Don’t underestimate the value of a short break. In addition to offering similar tips to those in the articles above, this article suggests we reconsider the long vacation. Obviously pastors can’t extend the weekend by taking Friday and Monday off as is suggested in this article, but there are other options. Short breaks require less planning and there is less backlog when you return. Yet, they can be great fun and reduce stress effectively. Think about including them in the mix.