Summer is here for some and just around the corner for others. This means that it is officially vacation season. When planning to take a vacation are you also planning on how you’ll actually enjoy the vacation and be in the moment?

For some people the idea of going on vacation can be more stressful than working over 60 hours a week. As a Stress Management Coach, I’ve worked with countless clients that would whole-heartedly agree with that statement. It usually comes down to one of two things: fear and loss of control.

When you go on vacation you aren’t submerged in your work environment and your mind can wander to worst case scenario if you let it. “What if I lose major accounts because clients’ needs can’t be met to my standard? What if my employees/co-workers make a poor decision because I’m not there? What messes will I have to clean up when I return?”

“Taking a vacation can actually increase the likelihood of getting a raise or promotion.” 

-Shawn Achor

Most people that struggle with taking vacation believe that no one else can do their job. They also dread returning back to a mountain of piled up work. One other thing I’ve seen is the fear that they will be seen as replaceable. If they leave for a week and someone else can do their job without a hitch, “then what do they need me for?”

All of these worries can make your vacation miserable. This is supposed to be a time to relax and recharge! In a study by U.S. Travel Association, found that only 37 percent of senior executives said they fully disconnect (no email, calls to the office, etc.) from work while on vacation; even though 95 percent said they’re aware of the benefits of unplugging.

“The purpose of a vacation is to have the time to rest. But many of us, even when we go on vacation, don’t know how to rest. We may even come back more tired than when we left.” -Nhat Hanh

If you are able to loosen your death grip on work and schedule a vacation for yourself, that’s huge. You are taking the time to prioritize yourself. I know it can be an internal conflict to get to that point. I need for you to commit to this vacation like you commit to your work. Commit to take this time to recharge, rest, and bring back great energy and creative innovations to work.

Now, let’s make this vacation worth it. Here are some tips for how to plan ahead to let go and relax while you’re on vacation:

Unplug From Work. I know this can be easier said than done. If you can completely unplug for the length of the vacation please do it. Technology can be a blessing and a curse. You can access anything you want, wherever you are, but your work always comes with you. It’s attached to you; unless you detach from it. Take this vacation to rest and recharge so you can return to work with my clarity. You can get a journal and write down ideas that pop into your head for work to share when you return. The best ideas come when you remove yourself from a situation and are relaxed.

Set Healthy Boundaries. If completely unplugging is still a struggle for you then focus on setting healthy boundaries. While on vacation set boundaries such as: only one hour of work first thing each morning, I’ll only check my email at 9am and 5pm with only 30 minutes of response time, I will not carry my work phone around with me, I’ll only check the cameras or get a recap for the day at night for 20 minutes etc. Find a happy medium for yourself, but you must set boundaries or you’ll lose yourself in your work.

Empower People You Trust to Make Decisions on Your Behalf. If given the opportunity, everyone will run to the person that can give them the answer they need right away. If that person is you, and you don’t make it clear that you will not respond to inquiries while away, people will fall into default and do what’s easiest. Also, reach out to your major clients, partners, vendors etc and let them know you’re going on vacation and who they should reach out to with any questions. That way no one is surprised when they’re looking for you to answer a question. By making it clear before you leave that you will be on vacation and listing the specific people to reach out to for various questions, you can relieve some of the confusion. You can empower these people to only reach out to you if “x, y or z” happens.

Document the Hiccups. Have an assistant, intern or secretary document all the hiccups that occurred at the office while you were gone. This way when you return you can address how the issues should be handled or resources available your employees might not be aware of. This is a great way to learn how the environment flows without your direction and now you can train people better to handle your absence.

One thing that I tell my stressed-out clients in this situation is: going on vacation gives you an opportunity to improve your team when you return. Don’t wait until you’re forced to be out of work for an uncontrollable situation. If that situation were to occur, the stress from that particular occurrence, on top of the stress of leaving your team for the first time will be much worse than you going on vacation for a few days.

“A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking.”

-Earl Wilson

Bottom-Line: Your health is very important. Take a deep breath; everything is going to be okay. You deserve a vacation. Recharge yourself and come back to your company more energized and innovative than before. Plan ahead, leave the stress behind (as much as possible) and go enjoy yourself! Give yourself and those you care about memories to stick with them for a lifetime.

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  • Erica Ferguson

    Helping others become better versions of themselves. It's that simple.

    The Erica Ferguson

    Erica Ferguson is a Facilitator, Master Coach & Conversation Catalyst. Erica helps people perform at a higher level and live higher quality lives. Erica teaches individuals and organizations simplistic ways on how to prioritize themselves through self-care and personal growth practices. She is a fitness fanatic that loves to explore, witty remarks, helping others live their greatest lives in their own authentic style