Vacations Are Meant For Relaxing. Why Are We So Stressed Going Back To Work After Long Vacations?

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Christmas is right around the corner and many of us have planned or are in the midst of planning some vacation time.

After all, we all need some time to unwind and relax.

But what happens after that long awaited vacation?

We need to get back to work, that’s what!

Usually, two or three days before we come back to work, after a long break, we start to feel our tension and stress levels increase.

Going back to work after our vacation suddenly feels like a gargantuan effort.

To make things worse, it affects our last vacations days and buries many of our recently collected happy memories…ever feel like the vacation just blurred by?

One would assume that we’d prepare to avoid all this stress after experiencing it once or twice. But our brain pulls a fast one; it ensures we forget that dark period prior to returning back to work, while it maintains the memories gathered during our lovely vacation.  It’s called the vacation paradox and you can read more about it on this excellent brain pickings post.

Knowing all this gives us an edge going into our next vacation.  Lets see how we can avoid all the stress and anxiety associated with returning back to work…

1 Land a day or two before you have to start work

I know this bums up everyone who thought about maxing out their vacation. But it’s the only way to hit the ground running. Ending your vacation and leaving enough pause to get re-accustomed to everything as it was prior to your vacation is a must. This will give your brain and subconscious enough time to adjust and prepare for those open tasks and unfinished projects.

So give yourself that time to ensure you land “sanely” on your first day at work.

2 Prepare the week ahead

You left a lot of things open on your table when you left, right? Guess what? During your vacation that pile got bigger.

That’s why it’s important to prioritize and review everything you left open. Giving yourself an extra day or two will give you time to, at least, mentally prioritize what needs to get done before actually doing anything.

This mental exercise defuses a lot of stress and will give your brain the bandwidth it needs with minimum tension.

3 Read something that will inspire you

One of my favorite ways to get motivated before returning back to work is to read something extraordinary.

It doesn’t have to be something new, but it needs to get you thinking about how you do things and how you can do them better. If it can give you the chills every now and then, even better…

4 Warm up before you sprint

When you start, don’t try to eat “frogs”, you might choke.

When we finish small tasks we get a sense of victory. As I previously mentioned in one of my posts: success is built from a large mass of small victories.  The sense of success we experience gives us momentum due to a small dosage of dopamine that motivates us to continue to check things off our lists.

5 Process Emails properly – don’t focus on speed

Treat your email list as a treasure trove because that’s exactly what it is when you arrive after a long vacation.

When you hit your enormous email list, make sure that nothing gets lost. The important thing here is to catch and process everything.

What we tend to forget is that inside our email are potential deals, projects and opportunities just waiting for us to do something. The only way to give that list the respect it deserves is by processing those emails into actionable items and doing something about them.

A real Inbox Zero can be achieved by making progress, not by archiving your emails or rearranging them in new folders “to be handled later.”

6 Avoid meetings as much as possible

In general, I find most meetings a waste of time and so should you, especially after a long vacation.

There’s a tendency in many companies to conduct a status report to see if all the ducks are lined in a row or something along those lines.

As an FYI, meetings are effective only when you have something new to report. When you need to conduct a review it’s best to do so alone. So gather all the information you need, ask questions via emails and focus on moving forward.

7 Set expectations

Sure, it won’t be the most productive week of your life, but it can definitely be a much more productive week if you’ll take proper precautions.

Try not to start something new, especially a new project. I find it best to use this first week to evaluate and organize my work ecosystem and reconnect back to what makes me awesome at my job!

Do you have post-vacation hacks that you would like to share? I’d love to hear what gets your motor running after a long vacation.

Until we meet again, enjoy your vacation!

If you are planning your next vacation be sure you don’t miss these great tips that will help you avoid having a Vacation Nightmare.

Written on 10/13/2013 by Haim Pekel. Haim Pekel is IQTELL’s marketing director. IQTELL is a productivity and a personal information management app that organizes Everything in One Place. IQTELL recently released an amazing feature that helps to process your emails quickly and effectively – we call it  EZ Email processing . Learn more about  IQTELL’s App and join a community supported by productivity buffs! Get the Productivity App Today!

Photo Credit: Mike Hoff

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