Have you ever had that long-awaited vacation after a stressful period at work, just to get sick when it finally comes? Our bodies are designed to hold on to get through the stress and ignoring the not-essential-for-surviving signals. The problem with this feature of ours is that it’s been developed to survive in savanna when people lived in real danger all the time. Now life for most of us has changed, but our anatomy and psychology hasn’t caught up. So we keep ignoring our bodies’ non-essential exhaustion signals, even though we are not physically surviving every day anymore. We have brought that survival mode from the savanna into our offices and comfy homes. And when we go on vacation and get out of that stress mode, we just collapse.
This spring has been a stressful period for many. People had to isolate themselves and didn’t have human interaction for 2 months. Others were locked down with the whole family and had to suddenly combine their work with being a teacher, nanny and what not else. Now the school holidays and vacation period are coming up for many, and I fear that people will be collapsing when they suddenly get a bit of breathing space.
How can we prevent collapsing in the coming break? I think it is essential to avoid going from 180 km/hour to a standstill in a day. Now it is good to slow down, and after vacation let’s talk about how to keep the pace at a sustainable level. Here are some thoughts I’d like to share for your vacation preps:
1. Lower your ambitions. At work, you don’t need to deliver at 175% all the time. A hundred or even 90% is fine! Yes, it means a change and no, some of your colleagues might not like it. I often see people doing the work for others because it’s easier to do it yourself than explain someone else how to. It’s not easier — not in the long run. So start delegating back. And if you feel bad about that, think this way: an exhausted and demotivated, or even a burned-out, you are a bigger nightmare to your colleagues than them taking some duties off your shoulders.
2. Prioritise self-care. Those dishes in the sink can wait till tomorrow. The laundry basket will not run away. Your kid can not get dumb from watching something on a screen for half an hour. Free up some time for yourself and do something to recharge – every single day. And please, don’t use that time for Netflix, it will not recharge you!
3. Reflect daily on how you feel. Just take a minute before going to bed and listen inwards. How does your body feel? What’s on your mind? What would you like to change and how can you do that? Spend a moment being grateful to your body carrying you through every day.
What are your challenges with everyday life? And how does that usually affect your vacations?
With all my love and care,