Why you should disconnect from work while on vacation

A woman working while on vacation. (Courtesy/iStockphoto)

Holidays and vacations are times or periods of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually set aside and planned for rest, recreation, recess, or travel. It is a time specifically set aside for enjoyment or relaxation – a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation. 

A holiday refers to a short period that one spends doing leisure activities. On the other hand, a vacation means time taken off from work to enjoy leisure and various other enjoyable activities. 

However, that scope of things has since altered by the Covid-19 pandemic when the meaning of working changed from working from the office to working from home.

Now, being out of the office does not mean what it used to mean – the impact of email on work-life balance, the use of an application that connects you to the office (even while on holiday), has made it impossible to escape work even when on vacation or holiday. 

The pandemic seems to have left a new work culture – that of always being available for work, and a blurring the line between home and professional life. It has become almost impossible to power down your mobile phone or laptop – even at the beach, hiking, or swimming, your mind cannot stay away from your work. 

A study published in a journal titled: Journal of Happiness Studies says that because it takes time to wind down after a stressful work period and acclimatise to vacation,” it takes eight days of vacation for the benefits of a break to be fully felt. 

So, are you on vacation and still reaching for your phone? You are not alone. 

Travel experts say there are tips, tactics, and solutions that you can use to help save your vacation from becoming “another working session” that may cause you stress and burnout while on vacation. These will help you protect the time you set aside for relaxation – individually, with a group, or with family. 

Take time to rest before travel: A few days before you set out, set the stage for your vacation by turning off your phone after work and setting up an out-of-office auto-reply after hours. Set up a time limit to spend on email on your phone.

Establish this routine that will make it harder for you to get back to work during off-hours by logging out of all work programmes on your computer, shutting it down, and keeping your computer or laptop out of reach. 

Spend your downtime away from the screen: This goes for the desktop, laptop, or mobile screen. Practice another hobby such as reading, writing a journey, compiling your vision board, trying out some art or crafting, and other activities that create an unpleasant feeling. Experts say these will signal an end of the stress cycle to your body, thereby helping your body to go into relaxation mode naturally. 

When you eventually travel for your much-needed vacation or holiday, always remember the purpose – to rewind, relax, enjoy, and have fun. As a reminder, tell yourself this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and use the rare opportunity to avoid work-related tasks to keep stress at bay while vacationing. 

“We are not designed to work hard all the time, but we are designed to oscillate through the cycles of living, and wellness is not a state of mind, nor is it a state of being, but a state of action,” writes Emily Nagoski, PhD, health educator and author of Burnout

The author observes that burned-out travellers will often come down with a cold as soon as they arrive at their destination, which she explains happens when a person’s body had kept them running and productive, long past it was meant to, so it (body) collapses when it finally has a chance to rest. 

Wellness experts advise that you be selfish with your vacation and holiday time. Remember, you cannot attend to the same two things in the same instance such that when you are doing something that requires concentration, which is all your brain can process. While holidaying or vacationing, tap into activities that call for concentration. 

The more compelling the activity is, the more it will absorb you that way.


Related Articles