The countdown has begun!

Shopping, decorating, traveling, cooking – it’s all a part of the holiday activities for millions, correction billions. In the United States alone, millions take advantage of their company-sponsored days off to celebrate the holidays and catch up on rest. Yet, people often work on their rest days, then return to work more tired than when they left.

“I still have so much to do!”

“I don’t want to fall too far behind!”

“I hate for my emails to back up when I’m gone!”

These are just a few of the reasons why people use their rest days to work. Yet, report after report continues to show how we are more productive when we give our brains and bodies time to relax and rejuvenate.

If you struggle to relax when you have time off from work, here are a few things you can do to help you walk away and not look back for a few days, yet still get things done.

Be sincere in your conviction and desire to rest. Over the years, I’ve found many people will say they’re going to rest because it sounds good, but don’t really mean it. They will make plans to rest, but when the time comes to do it, they allow even the smallest of distractions to enter in and steal away that time. If you’re sincere about getting some rest, make and keep it a priority. By doing this, you give yourself time to decompress and re-energize so the ideas can flow. But, like most things in life, if you don’t really mean what you say, you most likely won’t do it.

Use your “Out of Office” notification to set the expectation. Today, many employers use email services which include an option to set up an “Out of Office” notification when you’re gone. Use it! Create a really nice message for those who send you emails so they understand that you welcome their information, but won’t be able to respond to it immediately. You can say something like, “Thank you for your message. However, I am on vacation until (insert date) with very limited access to emails. If your message requires more immediate attention, please contact (insert name) at (insert email address). Otherwise, I will respond to your message as soon as I can. Have a wonderful day and holiday season.” This allows you to continue to communicate, maintain relationships, and provide an option for them to still get a response to their most pressing need.

Establish a target rest time and stick to it. When away from work, you most likely stay busy catching up on many of the things you couldn’t do while working. By setting an end time for your activities, you’ll know exactly how much time you have to run your errands, visit with family and friends, enjoy a night out, or whatever you want/need to do. By setting your rest schedule, you can proactively decide how long you want to rest, when it should occur, and build everything else around it to ensure everything you want to get done, gets done, including resting.  You can also communicate your stop time to others so they won’t feel slighted when you bring your interaction to an end.

Keep a pad and pen next to your bed. When I have a lot to do and it’s on my mind, I’ll often wake up between 2:00 am – 4:00 am with great ideas or a list of things to do. If I don’t write down what I’m thinking, it’ll keep me awake for hours. If this is you too, instead of wasting good rest time, take a minute to write down everything that comes to mind – do a brain dump. This will allow your mind to clear back up so you can resume your rest.

These are just a few simple things you can do to ensure you’re able to rest your mind and body when away from work, but still get things done. While the focus here is incorporating these ideas into your holiday/vacation schedule, you should strive to practice these in the evenings and on weekends so you can enjoy rest on a regular basis.

Your mind and body will thank you.

Happy Holidays!