Featured Wellness Wedneday Post Originally Posted on the Work to Live Blog
A few weeks ago, while preparing for a weeklong trip to the Virgin Islands and daydreaming about the sunbathing and piña coladas on the beach, I found myself wondering, “How am I going to make the most out of this vacation?"
I love a good vacation, but often wonder about how much busy professionals have to pay to earn our relaxation time. Prior to working for myself, I worked at an education nonprofit and used to have to work a double load the week before and after my vacation just to stay afloat. The pre and post-vacation stress was so immense that it would almost completely cancel out all the hard earned relaxation. It's almost like the anxiety of going on vacation has become the norm. How many of you know what I mean?
For this vacation, I decided to try a different approach; something that I had not ever considered before because of all the taboos around working during your vacation. I allotted myself an hour everyday to respond to my work emails just to see if that would reduce the vacation anxiety. I learned quite a bit from my little wellness experiment.
I discovered that it was actually not that hard to train my brain to be in work mode for that hour first thing in the morning before resuming vacation mode on the beach for the rest of the day. Of course, setting tight boundaries and really sticking to it was important so that I didn’t get sucked into work mode beyond the allotted time. Having trained myself to be a good consultant for the past two years, this didn’t seem to pose a problem.
The Monday back from my vacation was pretty good, too. I didn’t have that dreadful pile-up of emails from the week because I had been checking and responding to them throughout the week.
The only thing that I didn’t quite anticipate was the difficulty of fully adjusting to work after a week of almost complete relaxation. I had quickly grown accustomed to the 11 hours of restful sleep every night. My experiment highlighted how the extremes of work and vacation are difficult for our mind and body to reconcile.
Next month, I think I’ll try to stick to moderation by infusing a little bit of relaxation into every week and see how I do. Perhaps I won't be stressed about vacations anymore, and my mind and body will just remain relaxed in and out of work ...
all photos: B. Liu © 2012 all rights reserved