It is school holiday time in many parts of the world and families are heading off on vacation with their workaholic breadwinner(s) physically present but mentally absent. Unfortunately I am a major culprit here so this post is for me too.
How and perhaps more pertinently why should you switch off when you’re on vacation?
Why is the easy part.
- Your family and friends deserve it. If you are a workaholic then they make sacrifices to enable you to work the hours you do. Reward them with some valuable time and attention. Be with them physically and mentally.
- If you’re a workaholic and not switching off and recharging your body and mind at regular intervals during the year then you are endangering your own physical and mental wellbeing. Research has shown that our mind and body wears out with overuse and we become less effective and productive unless we stop and recharge on a regular basis.
- You are more likely to fall sick when you go on vacation because during the transition from stress to a more relaxed state your cortisol and adrenaline levels fall and your immune systems are at a low ebb. As a result you become more highly susceptible to bugs and infections. Dutch psychologist Ad Vingerhoets observed this common condition and aptly named it “leisure sickness”. As yet there isn’t research to validate the condition but it seems to happen on a regular basis so there must be more than a grain of truth in his hypothesis.
- It follows that if you become really sick due to obsessive work then your business or your employer will suffer due to your prolonged absence. This makes no business sense at all.
So, how can you switch off? Here are 5 easy tips:
1. PLAN AHEAD
In the few weeks prior to your holiday organise not to be missed in your absence by creating four options for your work:
- Do – get it out of the way
- Delete – get rid of it
- Delegate – give it to someone else while you’re away
- Delay – manage expectations about the delivery time ie when you are back.
2. COMMUNICATE TO EVERYONE
Either directly and/or via your email auto response, that you will be away and uncontactable. If you feel that you need to be contactable then provide your mobile number to ONE trusted colleague, manager or assistant for absolute emergencies.
3. STOP EVERYTHING WORK RELATED
This means switching off your mobile and work email for the duration of your holiday. If you can wean yourself off social media, news and sports as well as your work email then you have a double dose of improvement in your mental wellbeing.
If that’s too much cold turkey then disable your work email or limit your phone or email use to an early morning glance either every day or preferably every few days. This keeps your stress levels down because you know what’s going on without being involved.
4. FRESHEN UP YOUR MIND
Think about and do radically different things to your normal life, which de-clogs your mind and generates new thoughts and feelings. This is beneficial because, as my Mum used to say, “a change is as good as a rest”.
5. FRESHEN UP YOUR BODY
Workaholics are more prone to physical issues such as high blood pressure, stress and anxiety, poor sleep, increased risk of heart attack and diabetes. With this in mind your vacation is a great way to freshen up and give your body a break too. Catch up on sleep, eat healthier and go for walks or ride or swim. Just slow down or go hard depending on which approach benefits you most physically.
Everything mentioned above is obvious and easy to understand. It is harder to implement if you’re a workaholic but you must switch off work if you want to be mentally and physically healthier for longer.