Does the thought of leaving work for vacation make you more stressed out than ever? Here are 4 ways to make sure going on vacation doesn’t ruin your work life.

Time away from the office during the holiday season, or any time of the year really, is a wonderful thing. New sights, old friends and rejuvenation await! Unfortunately, the shadow cast by any vacation is the dreaded heap of work (and begrudging, overworked co-workers) that so often await your return. These are two of the biggest reasons why 55 percent of Americans don’t use their paid time off. Vacations aren’t just about travel and catching up with friends or pet projects — they are genuinely necessary for resting the body and mind. You can’t work if work’s dragging you down in energy and brainpower. So, if you’ve been nervous about going on that almighty vacay, take heart: here are four ways to do it while avoiding unnecessary stress when you’re back at your desk.

1. Talk It Out

You work hard and deserve your time off, yet many people feel a sense of guilt for going on vacation. It’s a problem that’s only getting worse: an estimated 59 percent of millennials feel bad about leaving their work to be covered by colleagues. The key to leaving for a few days or weeks with peace of mind is open communication. Workplace surveys reveals that when employees and managers discuss the importance of vacation, employees are more likely to take their time off, and not feel guilty about it, which is good for everyone in the long run. If you’re a manager, talk to your employees about the importance of vacation; if you’re an employee, be honest with your manager and your co-workers about what you need.

2. Plan Ahead and Delegate

Professionals at any level get that title for one common reason: they know what their job is and how to do it. But we also have to trust colleagues to help each other out where we can. Delegating work is a hugely important step to take before you leave on vacation. But what if you’re the only person who does what you do? MeetEdgar has a great solution to this, and it’s their in-house wiki. It’s an internal tool that explains what each person does and how they do it, so that other employees can effectively cover their chilled-out colleagues. Setting up an internal how-to mechanism like this makes everyone more relaxed in the long run — including those who are taking vacation and those who are sticking around.

3. Don’t Be Afraid of the Big Bad Inbox

If fear of the email avalanche is what stops you from taking a proper vacation, use the power of auto-responder to get you off to a fresh start when you’re back. One neat approach: The managing director at Foundry Group set an away message that tells recipients exactly what will happen to their message while he’s away. Messages are archived automatically, and anything important has to be either sent to his assistant for delegation or resent to him again after he is back in the office. Not only does he get to come back to a light inbox, he gets to make a smooth, refreshing transition back into the rhythm of the workplace. It’s not just for executives either — some firms have embraced this as a companywide policy, auto-deleting emails while you’re on vacation and alerting the sender, so that your inbox doesn’t overflow while you’re floating in the hotel pool.

4. Ease Your Way Back In

You’ve taken a great vacation and now it’s time to come back. But not everyone has to know you’re back just yet. For a smooth transition, come back one day earlier than when your auto-responder says you’ll return — it’s a great way to get a handle on whatever tasks truly need your attention right away, before an onslaught of people say, “You’re back! Can you do this? And how about this?” When choosing what tasks to tackle first, be kind to yourself and do whatever the small, fun, interesting tasks are first to get yourself slowly settling in.

Going away for a long or short vacation is definitely a manageable thing, no matter what your position or workload. It’s all about your approach and your organizational tactics so that you don’t defeat the whole point of your vacation: relaxing and enjoying life as it happens.

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Originally published at