How to hold on to that vacation feeling.
Oh ! The glorious summer vacation. Nothing beats the longing. Arriving at your destination provides an almost delirious pleasure. When you return home, it is with a truckload of memories and mountains of renewed energy. You feel as if you have grown 5 years younger in a 2 week timespan and facing the office is now a piece of cake.
Scientists have figured out how long that piece of cake will last : depending on how well you were able to disconnect from work during your vacation, 2 to 4 weeks max.
Not much, I’d say. Luckily, these same darling scientists suggest a couple of ways to stretch the feeling of vacation.
My personal favourite : leave on vacation at least once every two month. This is, sadly, not the most practical advice.
These are some more applicable ones.
Trick your brain.
A classic : a certain stimulus like a taste, a smell or a melody brings back memories. The smell of suncream transports you to the swimming pool, the sound of a mandoline puts you back at that small wooden table of a southern restaurant.
It used to be so that you’d need to wait for days to develop your holiday pix and that was a great moment to re-live the lost summer days. Pictures on social media don’t turn out to have the same effect, but what’s holding you back to make a photo album so that you can leaf through it from time to time ?
Take it easy
You are able to avoid a lot of post-vacation stress by scheduling in some catch-up time. It is a smart idea to leave your out-of-office message one day longer. In the meantime, you can go through your mails. The good news is that most problems will have been resolved by themselves. Make a mental note : those problems do the same while you are actually at work. Empty your mailbox and make a planning or to-do list before you allow the outside world to re-enter your workspace.
That’s the magic of vacation. Why not bring that magic in your own home or work ? Is it really crucial to check your mails every half hour ? Do you really need to drop everything as soon as your manager has a so-called urgent demand ? Who congratulates you when you stay in the office till 10PM ? And does your company really hit bankruptcy because one task wasn’t finished on time ?
This is not the ‘lazy worker’ manifesto. I am simply suggesting you can define your own limits so that you have enough time to keep a healthy dosis of enjoyment in your daily life.
You don’t need vacation to relax
You do build up some spare energy during your vacation. If you don’t watch out, that energy barrel will be empty before you blink an eye. Take time to relax once you are back from vacation. There are plenty of things that you associate with vacation that you can enjoy during your day-to-day reality : savour a glass of wine with loved ones, go biking with friends, read a good book in a long sensuous bath …
We all love a (small or big) portion of adventure when we are on vacation : discovering new places, tasting a different cuisine, challenging ourselves athletically, building lasting connections with total strangers. Why chose for routine once you’re back ? In one of our Indra Partners trainings we oblige managers to stretch themselves by diving into a micro-adventure. How micro that adventure turns out to be would surprise you. Some people find that discovering a new way of getting to the office suffices to create some excitement. Others chose to talk to an unknown colleague in the office cafetaria. Still others decide to work a day in a homeless shelter and really get to know at least one person. We all have our own definition of what stretches us. Pick what feels right for you.
We all have witnessed what people are capable of once people are on vacation : aqua gym in a tiny swimming pool, a bike trip over the Mont Ventoux (by choice !), a walk to Santiago de Compostela with feet covered in blisters, a ride on a plastic banana in the mediterranean, … We don’t mind moving our butt when we’re on vacation, do we ? But then we go back to the trusted office chair. Get up and walk ! Moving will increase your energy level. It quiets the mind and helps you sleep better. Just like vacation !
Don’t be so hard on yourself
No one has the ultimate perfect looks. We know that and we don’t mind squeezing into a tiny swimming suit to go to the beach. Although we are aware that we might look slightly ridiculous, we don’t care. When we are on vacation, we don’t put that pressure on ourselves. So why would we do it once we are back at work ? Yes, you can have a critical attitude towards your work, but do accept who you are, with all your strengths and flaws.
Wouldn’t it be grand to celebrate this vacation feeling every day ? If you take these tips to heart, you’re almost there. And if not : it’s only a couple of months till Christmas !