Unplugged: How to Disconnect from Work and Enjoy Your Vacation

As travel restrictions ease and the summer heats up, there is no better time to take a vacation or staycation. Taking time away from work has many health benefits including improving your connection to yourself and loved ones and resetting from or avoiding burnout.

The Benefits of Taking a Vacation

Vacationing and taking time away from your job promotes a long, healthy life and has tremendous benefits to your mind. Taking a break from routine in fun and different ways can have the same benefits as consistent meditation exercises and help you build connections with not only your loved ones but yourself, too. In addition, taking a vacation has been scientifically proven to boost brain power. Taking time off from learning, working and gaining new information every day allows your brain to consolidate existing knowledge, resulting in improved learning after vacation.

The benefits go beyond just your mind — they affect your body too. Through reduced stress, vacations can improve heart health and decrease chances of metabolic diseases or conditions. Vacation time also improves sleep as poor sleep habits can be broken when sleeping in a new place. Coming home after vacation feels like sleeping in another new place, allowing those improved habits to continue.

Using vacation time is one of the best ways to reset from or avoid burnout. Check out this video from Jamie Hutchinson, the Deputy Director of the MSU Worklife Office, where she explains the five phases of burnout and how to avoid or correct them. Taking a vacation and then coming back to work helps reset a person to their “honeymoon phase,” a term used in Hutchinson’s video. 

Before Going on Vacation

To take full advantage of these benefits, you should consider fully unplugging from work — those emails and phone calls won’t go anywhere. 

Before you head to the airport or hit the road, set up automatic email replies with your out-of-office details including when you will be back, who to contact in the meantime, and how to contact you in case of an emergency if needed. If you use a shared calendar with your team, add your out-of-office dates as early as possible and notify your team verbally and/or by email. If you have ongoing projects, consider asking a coworker, supervisor, or team member to check up on them while you are away and plan to share updates when you return. If possible, leave work-related things at home or at the office to prevent the temptation to focus on work. Finally, prepare for the day you return from work before you leave by keeping your schedule as clear as you reasonably can on your first day back.

Returning from Vacation

Returning to work can often be stressful and sometimes undo the rest you achieved on vacation. To avoid getting immediately burned out, take time to ease back into your work routine. Try to avoid scheduling several meetings on your first day back and try not to set or meet big deadlines during your first week back in the office. The more time you spend away, the more time you should give yourself to get back to your normal work pace and routine.

In addition to easing into your normal work routine, it’s important to unplug from work at the end of each day. It’s easy to get burned out if you are mentally on the clock 24/7, answering emails and catching up during nights and weekends. You can use Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Google Calendar and other work team services to set out-of-office messages at the end of your workday. Finally, avoid stress by taking the necessary steps to be productive and engaged as shared in this earlier post about avoiding and reducing burnout. 

All these tips and more are available through these links:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *