How to switch off on holiday

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You’re on holiday, but your mind is still in the office, and you can’t stop thinking about your to-do list for when you get home…

In the not-too-distant past, it was easier to leave work behind, but working from home and having constant access to everything on your phone has blurred the lines between work life and personal life – including time off. When you’re always on, it can be difficult to tell yourself to switch off, and that can lead to serious burnout and impact your mental health. The experts at Go2Africa reveal their top tips to make ‘out of office’ a state of mind, not just an email setting. 

Practice before your holiday 

Get used to the idea of switching off before you travel, so it’s not such a shock when you get there. If you’re used to having work-related notifications on at all times, try making sure they’re turned them of outside of work hours now. Even when you love your job, having it constantly sneak into your down time can lead to resentment.

Take some time to try relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga after work each day, even if it’s just for half an hour, to begin to teach your brain to unwind. The more you practice now, the easier you’ll find it to switch off when you’re on holiday. 

Devices off

A 2018 study found that 60% of people check their work emails while on holiday, and with instant access to emails on your phone, it can be very tempting to have a quick look. 

It can be difficult to leave the phone at home entirely, because of using it to get around, pay for things, and take photos, but removing certain apps is very important. If you can, remove the email app and any other work-related communication apps from your home screen so you’re less tempted – and turn the notifications off! 

If it’s impossible to unplug entirely, give yourself thirty minutes a day to respond to only the most urgent emails and messages, flagging less time-sensitive ones to deal with when you return. Respond with instructions, if possible, rather than questions, to minimise the need for further emails for you to check up on. 

Schedule time to do nothing

If you’re always on the go in your daily life, you may struggle with the idea of doing nothing. This can mean that every second of your holidays are crammed full of activities and sightseeing trips and you don’t waste a second, but then you end up feeling like you need another holiday to recover when you get home. 

Make some time for actual rest, whatever that looks like for you. It could mean a day at the beach with a book you’ve been meaning to read for months, an afternoon aimlessly wandering around a town without an itinerary, sampling some local food, or just an hour each morning, sitting on the balcony enjoying the view. You deserve a break, so make sure you let yourself actually have a break! 

Be prepared and plan in advance…

Leaving everything to the last minute is an almost guaranteed way to begin your holiday with stress, and that doesn’t just include starting to pack a few hours before your trip. 

Tie up as many loose ends as you can before you go, and delegate tasks to other people so you know things will be taken care of while you’re away.  Make sure that your colleagues, clients, or anyone else who would need to know, is aware that you’re going to be out of the office and uncontactable well in advance, rather than them finding out from your out of office message. 

… or get someone to do the planning for you! 

Whether it’s a once in a lifetime safari, or just a week in the sun, speaking to experts who can plan and organise everything for you is a great way to be able to unwind. They’ll be able to tailor-make the trip to your exact specifications, and they can handle everything so you can enjoy the experience without the stress.  

Ground yourself

If you can’t stop thinking about everything you didn’t get time to do before you holiday, anxiety coping techniques can be very helpful for getting your mind back to the present. 

The 5-4-3-2-1 technique involves using all your senses to focus on the moment and avoid stressful thoughts. Try looking for five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. This can you to refocus on where you are, rather than what needs to be done when you’re back in the office. 

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