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Forget Vacation Guilt: 5 strategies to rest like you deserve

Are you excited about your holiday? Your time has come, you’re finally going to get some rest! But wait! Do you know how to rest and put your work aside? Can you hear your thoughts whispering about project and emails while you’re laying on the beach? 

You have to stop them right now and we will tell you how.

First of all, here are simple reasons why you have to stop thinking about your job on vacation:

  • You deserve vacation
  • You have a legal right for it
  • If you don’t rest, you’ll get burnout

These reasons are obvious, so why many people can’t relax on holidays? Let’s find out!

The truth behind vacation guilt

People have all sorts of beliefs and fears that aren’t grounded in reality. While on a rational level you know that vacations are good for your health, you can’t deny what your emotions are telling you. It’s not like you can just switch to a relaxing mood after months of working. Your work duties had become your reality, so you feel like you’re ditching your colleagues and responsibilities.  

However, if we dig deeper into our fears, we can find a better explanation for vacation guilt. People are afraid that they are going to be replaced or that they are not going to get a promotion if they use their paid vacation. These statistics prove that point: 

So, you’re not the only one who has a guilt problem, but you have to realise that your fears are irrational. You won’t be perceived as a slacker or get passed over for job promotions if you free your mind from work. Maybe you’re a perfectionist who likes to be involved in everything that is happening at work, but you have to learn to trust your colleagues. 

Remember the fact that more and more companies are now results-focused and they don’t care so much about the time you spent in the office or online. There is a number of people that are working from home and their managers still trust them. Nevertheless, there are some specific things that you can do in order to get rid of the guilt trip. 

Guide for guilt-free vacation

1. Plan in advance

Planning a trip brings joy, but you can’t plan it without a bit of stress. Just like at work, planning is the key. You have to organise things at work in order to relax at your vacation. However, if you start on time, everything will go smoothly. 

Let’s be more concrete. You have to book your vacation earlier and think about how to deal with the work after that. Plan all your activities and finish everything before you go on vacation. 

  • Choosing a colleague you trust to manage day-to-day tasks during your absence can be a key solution that will bring you peace of mind.

This person can be in charge to contact you if it’s necessary. In that case, you’ll know that if nobody is calling you, that means that everything is alright. Also, you might have to do extra work before you go. However, an extra hour a day in exchange for two weeks off is worth it.

Another tip is to plan your vacation in a period when there are no deadlines or in less busy times. Your to-do list will be much shorter, so you might not have to take these extra hours to finish your work. 

2. Set boundaries

In order to prevent stress, you will have to tell your colleagues that you are going on vacation. Do it as soon as you book everything and remind them at least two weeks before you go. When everything is transparent, it’s easier to organise tasks. 

You have to tell them if you’re going to be available on vacation if needed, but you also have to ask them if they have some expectations from you. Here are some questions that can be helpful:

  • What do you have to do before you go? 
  • How can they get in touch with you if something is urgent?
  • Who is going to be in charge instead of you?
  • Is there something that can’t be done without you? How you can handle it?
  • Do they need some advice from you before you go?

The key is to be on the same page with your colleagues. Nothing is implied and everything needs to be said and done. If you deal with this meeting well, you will feel less stressed and disorganised. Just focus on what you have to do before you go, and others will handle the rest. 

3. Set the autoresponder

In earlier times, it wasn’t that easy to reach a person on vacation. Nowadays, it’s hard not to open an email when you receive one on your mobile phone, whether you’re on a beach or in the meeting. However, with the development of technology came the solution to this problem. You can set boundaries by setting the perfect autoresponder for your time off.

You can find email templates online that will be automatically sent to anyone who tries to contact you or you can write it on your own. Nobody can be mad at you because you’re taking time off, but you have to let them know that you’re on vacation. 

Here are some things that you have to include in your email:

  • The date of when you’ll be available.
  • The person they can contact if something is urgent. 
  • Tell them if you’re totally unavailable. 
  • Be friendly and let them know that you’ll respond when you can.

4. Give yourself an hour to deal with work

If you’re a person in charge and some things can’t be done without you, then it might be healthy for you to choose an hour in a day when you will deal with the work. Tell your colleagues when you’ll be available and try to finish everything in an hour. Before and after that, forget about the job! If you do so, you will be satisfied that you’ve finished everything, so that you can enjoy your vacation. Remember, you have to prioritize things in your life and your decision was to go on vacation. Your priority is to relax in order to deal better with responsibilities latter. 

5. Keep remembering why you need a vacation

Sometimes it’s hard to get rid of the patterns we have in our head. In one moment, we can feel happy and satisfied, while in others we can hear the voice of our fear. 

  • Fear is a fundamental, deeply wired reaction that protects organisms against perceived threat to their integrity or existence. 

In these moments when you can feel that you’re stressed,  you have to remember the three fundamental reasons why you have to stop thinking about the job. We’ve mentioned them at the beginning of this article – you deserve it, it’s your legal right and it’s good for your further progression at work. 

Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go

– Hermann Hesse

Although we can think about this quote in many different situations, the message from us is to get a good book and forget about everything. Let go of your fears and enjoy!

Vacation Guilt – be gone!

It’s essential to accept your fears. Tell yourself yes, I’m afraid that I’m not going to be promoted or yes, I’m worried that I’m going to miss something important. When you rationalize your fears, it’s going to be easier for you to deal with them. 

You’ve scheduled this vacation well in advance; all your colleagues know that you’re going and they can do the job without you. If something is urgent, they will call you and you will deal with the problem. They know that you’re a dedicated person, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve a vacation.

At the end of the vacation, you will return refreshed, productive, happy, and ready to achieve something great.  Even studies have proved that! So, get ready to recharge your batteries. Enjoy your trip!