How to Fully Relax from Work While on a Vacation


Fans of the television show, FRIENDS, know the meaning of the classic phrase “We were on a break.” For those that don’t, this phrase refers to a possible break in the relationship of Ross and Rachel (two of the characters). For our use, this phrase will relate to being on a break from work, as in a vacation. When a person is on vacation, whether they go somewhere or have a staycation, one of their main goals is to get more rest, relaxation and to rejuvenate from being burned out. This time is meant to be a break from your daily reality. However, it can be hard to put your mind at complete ease and let go of everything job-related for your vacation time.

It is common to feel guilty for not checking and immediately responding to emails or assisting, if needed. This guilt can stem from numerous reasons based on the person and their work.

The American Psychological Association’s survey from 2018 found that 21% of U.S. adults felt stressed during their time off, and 28% actually worked more than they thought they would during their vacation. While these percentages aren’t high, they are more than one would expect. The ultimate goal is to not have anyone working while on vacation – 0%. The next time you feel the need to complete a task while taking some time for yourself, use these tips to help you say “no.”

  • Discover the ways you relax best. Everyone is different as to how they relax. Some enjoy doing absolutely nothing, while others enjoy gardening, playing a sport or doing yoga. Think about what you like to do in your spare time. Then, transfer that to your vacation. For example, if you like to hike on the weekends, go for a hike while on your break. The key is to disengage your mind from reality and everything that comes with it, such as work, responsibilities, etc.
  • Allow for impromptu trips, but have a plan for returning to work. No matter where you are for your holiday, be open for spur-of-the-moment adventures or unexpected rest time. Usually, people have a plan for their time off with what they want to accomplish and places to visit. Nonetheless, feel free to add something to your list or take something away. You should be focusing on your happiness during this time and shouldn’t have to feel the need to commit to anything. Sometimes over-planning activities can lead to exhaustion and leave you more tired. We all know the line, “I need a vacation from my vacation.” Don’t let this happen to you. As for returning to work, it does help to have a plan for how you return. Would it be beneficial to prepare on the last day or evening of your vacation? Maybe you prefer to wait until you are actually back in the office to reenter the working world. You may feel sad as your time off comes to an end, so try to make going back to your job as less stressful as possible.
  • Turn on your “out of office” messages, and turn off your notifications. Your workplace already knows you’ll be away. After all, paid time off is meant for employees to recharge and take a break. Before you leave, double-check your plans with your employer and make sure they remember you will be away. Then, set your “out of office” message on your email to inform others, and turn off your notifications. If you are like me, anytime an alert goes off, you feel the need to check-in immediately. Understand this is your time. You deserve it, and you deserve the chance to breathe.

Our culture focuses a great deal on the amount of time a person works at their job. Don’t feel ashamed to take a break every once in a while. In fact, this will help you be a better employee and person. It is just another form of self-care. And, if you do start feeling guilty about not working while on vacation, repeat to yourself the phrase “we were on a break,” and the guilt will start to go away.


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