And what you can do to unwind if you can’t really leave your work behind?
You send out your last e-mail, set up the Out Of Office Assistant and shut off your computer- off to holidays! But since you have a dozen of things going on at work, can you really close out all work-related stuff during your well-deserved rest? Here are some takeaways that will help you to understand the importance of real rest time, practicing mindfulness and meditation for maximum productivity.
Have you ever ended up working during your vacation?
Not really like full working days in front of your computer, but maybe a little bit of reading emails (oh, just for few hours every day), or even being on quick conference calls from your hotel room.
Resolving tasks, even less complex, will occupy significant amount of mental capacity.
The modern brain receives countless information from the external environment, it processes a myriad of tasks — many times unconsciously.
The automated, unconscious part of the brain will stay with all those tasks to be solved. Imagine your brain running in with an autopilot: scenarios, outcomes, solutions in thousands of different ways, based on past learning and events. Preventing the one thing that the vacation is meant for: to enjoy the present.
There is no way you will get back to work from your vacation rested and more content. It might just be the other way around: you get back to your work anxious, stressed.
There is a thing called cognitive bandwidth. It was used firstly by a Princeton psychologist, called Eldar Shafir.
The theory of the cognitive bandwidth explains that we have a limited amount of mental capacity every morning we wake up. And as we give attention to numerous information, tasks, news, people we spend more and more of this limited resource of mind/thinking capacity.
Easy to imagine how this limited mental capacity can be drained during holidays. You spend the brain capacity on thinking about your next job-related task, and how you will solve it, between going to the beach, spending time with family/friends or other holiday activities.
Circumstances might be totally different, but research and studies further support the importance of “taking a break” and to avoid mental fatigue.
An interesting article from the Psychology Today website points out that during a rest period the brain reviews and implants previous learning, processes important information and systematize important memories.
Mental fatigue and burn-out is a real thing and it have a cost that one will pay if fails to have rest and become over-stressed. Physical, emotional, and real financial costs.
What if you can’t take a break and must solve work related stuff during your vacation?
Here are the steps how to deal with work obligations while taking holiday. I found useful and practical, based on my experience.
- Identify if some tasks are really needed to be solved right during your holidays.
We all have those smart devices. It is can just so tempting to open the emails and start quickly answer to some from the sun bed. Once you start doing this, you’ll never stop. And the day on the sunbed goes by, without you benefiting anything from the beautiful day by the sea.
- If you identified some emergencies you need to solve while on vacation: set aside time (I prefer morning hours) and focus on one task each time.
When you finish start your day with movement: go for a swim, go for walking, and explore the area. Distract yourself in a highly active way from work. The best idea is to go for a vacation, which offers wellness activities. Wellness travel is becoming a big trend: retreats, hiking tours, sailing trips – just to mention a few. These kinds of wellness holidays are amazing to boost your physical and mental power.
- Practice meditation and mindfulness.
Easiest way is to listen to guided meditation, especially when you are a beginner. I always like to emphasise that meditation is like training for the mind: you must train your brain the same way you train your body. Quieting the mind will not come easy, it requires practice over time.
But the saying holds true here as well: practice and results will come.
Short or longer breaks are perfect occasions to start a new healthy habit, which will help to achieve a more content life.
And who know, you might just find a great new hobby to pursue.