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How To Have A Happy Vacation Away From Work

Picture this: you’re lying down for a deep tissue massage on the beaches of Phuket when your husband remarks, “You’re here, but you’re not really here.” Your mind is somewhere else—that is, you keep thinking of the backlog piling up at the office for every minute that you’re on vacation. Even if you try, you cannot turn off your ‘work mode,’ and you keep your phone nearby and for good measure, you’re connected to the Internet 24/7 (“In case there’s an emergency in the office!”). When you reach home, you feel as if you havent’t vacationed at all. Sound familiar? If yes, then, it’s about time you give yourself a real detox from your job.

Research says that taking time off to recharge results in higher productivity, better morale, and significant health benefits. It’s not just about physical stress, but psychological, mental and emotional fatigue. When you free yourself of workplace worries, you go back to your desk with a clearer mind and greater enthusiasm. In fact, if you hit a slump on creative and innovative ideas, taking a real rest will rejuvenate you inside out.

It allows you to return to work with a strong focus and with new perspectives. Because vacations give you a break from your frenetic routine, you also gain new experiences leading to your personal and social growth. When you spend quality time with those that matter most, you are sending a message to your significant other, to your children, to your family that they are important. On the other hand, if you insist on a “working vacation” you do not benefit at all. It prevents you from enjoying the moment and making memories with those you love, the very reasons why you work in the first place. You might even develop gastric acidity and palpitations from all that worry!

Do not check in constantly. When you respond to e-mails on vacation, you set a precedent. You show that you do not trust your team, nor how you have run your ship. Instead, set an example of balance by really detaching from work.

The trick is to prepare ahead of time leading to your scheduled holiday. There are five main things you must do:

1. Change your mindset from being an armchair general to a people manager. If you have been leading your team right, you would know if you have trained them right and prepared them for their roles and responsibilities. If so, you would have a level of trust.

2. Prepare your team with the necessary checklist and instructions. Tie up loose ends and assign them tasks that they can do and fulfill in your absence. Empower them. They will appreciate you for it.

3. Give plenty of notice to your clients, colleagues, suppliers and who inside and outside your company will be affected by your absence. Notify them well in advance when you are going on a vacation and for how long, who they can contact and liaise with for any requirement. Don’t forget to prepare a vacation auto-responder for your e-mail so those who get in touch with you will be reminded of your time off. Unless it is a life and death situation, people will respect your privacy.

4. Most importantly, prepare yourself. Chances are, you sabotage your own vacation by allowing old habits to eat into your holiday. Before you go on your vacation, leave a clean desk at the office. As you count down the days leading to your vacation, unclutter your desk like you’re preparing to unclutter your mind.

5. Wean yourself from technology. You don’t have to tweet, post on Facebook or Instagram or Snapchat everything. The only piece of tech you should take with you is a camera to capture some great pictures to bring home. When you get back home, allow yourself one to two days of rest and sleep before you go back to work.

In this wired world that we live in, we allow ourselves to be so caught up in the chaos thinking that success means juggling as many balls as we can. At some point these will fall, because we’ve just taken in more than we can handle. It’s best to really take stock of our lives and take a step back. To purposively look at it and weed out the important from the inconsequential. Then give ourselves the time to disengage and disconnect. This way, when we are recharged, we bring newfound energy to the office that will make new and meaningful connections.

This article was originally published in Working Mom. Changes have been made for Metro.Style.