Are you someone who goes on vacation…but doesn’t actually go on vacation?
Are you checking your work messages when you should be present to the folks you are with or the beauty that’s surrounding you?
If you’re nodding your head yes then this video is for you. You’ll learn why it can be so hard to actually BE away when we’re on holiday – whether it’s a staycation or a vacation- plus some steps you can take to create proactive boundaries so you can actually enjoy your time off!
Prefer the audio? Listen here.
How often have you said, “I need a vacation from my vacation”? Listen, I get it. I can tell you from my own experience how difficult it used to be for me to actually be OFF when I was supposed to be.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you might know that before I was a psychotherapist, I was a talent agent. I was in my early 20s pretty much trained to be “on” 24/7. There was always some important deal about to go down, so no matter what, even if I was on vacation I needed to be “reachable”. I was never really off the grid.
I carried the hypervigilance of needing to always be available and the learned behavior of never really being off from that time into my work life for the next few decades. It is only in the last 5 years that I haven’t worked on my vacations!
What did it take to make that shift? Better time boundaries, both internal and external, and putting support systems in place to help me take the time I need to fill my bucket and truly unplug.
If you struggle with this, you are in no way alone. There are a lot of reasons we can fall into the habit of not being able to disconnect from our work. Here are some of the top ones:
There was a time when if you weren’t at the office, people had to wait until business hours to get in touch with you. The advent of smartphones and widespread internet access really has changed the way we work and live. Many of us can be accessed just about 24/7 almost anywhere in the world. If we don’t put internal or external time boundaries in place, it can be very tempting to just check one more email or respond to that Slack, Asana, or Google documents notification.
If you tend toward over-achieving or perfectionism, it is very likely you have trouble taking time off to recharge and relax. Take it from a recovering perfectionist and workaholic – perfectionism is different from striving for excellence. It is instead the unrealistic belief that you can and should do everything exactly right, usually driven by low self-worth, and fear of criticism or rejection. It often goes hand-in-hand with…
When you are a high-functioning codependent, you feel overly responsible for the feelings, actions, and outcomes of others. It can manifest as over-functioning, over-giving, and doing more than your share at the expense of your own desires, needs, and well-being. For a long time, when it came to my work, I felt like I was the only person who could get whatever needed to be done, done right. So even when I was supposed to be off, there was always this feeling of urgency that I had to be the one. Can you relate?
We can get into a groove of just putting our heads down and getting it done no matter how long the hours or how exhausted we might be. The truth is, there is no way you are doing your best work if you don’t ever take a break to recharge. You’re just not.
Whether it’s a vacation or a stay-cation. It’s important to make the delineation between where our work day ends and where our real life begins. Even if you have a personal brand, there still needs to be a separation between your actual life and your work life, otherwise, both suffer.
In order to fully relax in your off time, proactive boundaries are necessary. Here’s what can help you make some positive changes and finally take the time you need to rest and recharge, (even play!):
> Set up away messages before you leave. Learning how to set up an away message for my email was a game-changer for me years ago. Just about all email platforms have a setting where you can customize your auto-response to include a personal message with details on when you will be responding and if you have support or willing team members, who they can contact while you are away. You can even set your smartphone to Do Not Disturb and create a custom text response.
> Take a break from your mobile device. Speaking of phones…turn off your work notifications from any apps you might use and consider putting your phone on airplane mode and just using your camera for vacation memories. Again, it is so important to make a distinction between work and the rest of your life, and when you can work from your phone, it’s easy for those lines to blur. Decide to unplug and give your brain and nervous system a vacation too!
> Step back from social media. Even if you run a personal brand as I do, don’t feel compelled to post every day or anything at all when you are on vacay! I do it when I get inspired to share, but I don’t feel obligated to do so. You can pre-plan your social or make an announcement you’re away. In general, social media scrolling can take you away from the present moment, so create some personal boundaries around it. If you’ve got a habit and you find your thumb tapping those social media icons without even realizing it, you can even uninstall the apps during your time off to really take a break!
> Let others know in advance. Set expectations and boundaries with the people in your life before you go off the grid. Share your “book out” dates when you will be unavailable (except for emergencies) and that you’ll be in touch when you return. Even if you’re close to your family and friends, it’s not necessary to talk to them when you are away. It takes up bandwidth and pulls you away from the present moment. Your ability to flex your “be here now” muscle is what makes the vacation nourishing.
> Plan a vacation that feels good to you. Create an itinerary that is aligned with what you are hoping to gain and how you want to feel. If you are traveling with others, communicate and negotiate to be sure you get your needs met. Don’t just go along to get along. Spend some time thinking about what would truly refresh, restore, inspire, and excite you and make your plans from there.
Here’s a quick reference cheat sheet with these tips for you ;).
The key to sticking to your plan to protect your precious downtime is to truly unplug from not only work but also your day-to-day life. Give yourself permission to be disconnected from the rest of the world and be fully present wherever you are.
Commit to shifting your mindset from always “on” mode to relaxation mode. Daily journaling and incorporating a short meditation practice can help you create more internal expansion and peace. Try to take a nap or just be. Doing nothing at times is really actually doing something. And that something is restoring your vitality, renewing your soul, and recharging your creativity so when you do return to work, you will be so much the better for it.
I hope this was helpful to you and inspired you to take the time to be present in your one-and-only amazing life! As always, take care of you.