While vacations are considered a source of happiness and recreation, they can also be a source of stress.

Stress because work issues follow you wherever you go as well as transitory stress due to a hectic lead up to the holidays and uneasiness because of the catch up period once having returned to office.

Now Why Is That?

Well, there are a number of circumstances that cause this type of stress.

Firstly, let’s assume your team or department has lots of work to deal with. So work load is high and you try to finish as much as you can to lower the burden on your colleagues with just a few days to go.

Many things still need to be organized at work and at home before you and your family can take off into paradise. It’s a bit like a motorbike running in top gear and then being forced down to first gear.

So during the week before your departure your stress level rises and your wellbeing decreases. This is followed by impatient children, traffic jams and/or airport hecticness until you finally drop into a deckchair in the sun just to wake up with sunburn.

What Research Found Out

Jessica de Bloom (School of Social Sciences at the University of Tampere/Finland) wrote an interesting article about research in vacation of working people in The Psychologist/Vol. 28 in August 2015 (www.thepsychologist.org.uk).

According to her, many people reported that what spoiled the start of their holiday period was high blood pressure, poor sleep, bad mood, lack of initiative and upset stomachs. In addition the benefits of vacation seem to be short lived once we are back in the treadmill.

Are Holidays Bad For You?

Well, if that is true holidays would indeed be bad for people. So, you we scrap them?

Definitely not! Lots of research advocates for the benefits of vacation. As continuous high stress levels are the cause for low wellbeing and many illnesses, taking breaks are essential.

Jessica de Bloom mentions several research results in her article.

The long term “Framingham Heart” study identified infrequent holidays as important to reduce the risk factor for heart disease. A Japanese study found that people having regular holidays tend to also have a healthier lifestyle (non-smoking, exercising, good sleep and healthy nutrition).

Another study on national level found a relationship between drug consumption and vacationing. In cooperation with a Swedish pharmacy chain discovered a decline in antidepressant alongside with the number of people on holidays.

Finally, Jessica found samples of Swiss and German origin in a series of “diary “ studies proving that workers feeling refreshed experience work rather effortless than a burden and are more willing to assist colleagues.

What Is The Conclusion?

So, the question is not whether or not vacations are effective. The point is how to prepare them.

In case you plan to book one of our wellness retreats we would want to make sure you will benefit as much as possible.We therefore like to share the following ideas that hopefully will help your vacation to result in a longer lasting positive effect rather than in a waste of money and frustration.

So, how about you consider to:

  • Take a number of shorter holidays instead of having only one large break. The length of the holiday is less crucial than the quality of your time off. More regular vacations could be more effective for you.
  • Slow down gradually and instead of rotating like a hamster. Avoid transitory stress by continuously running in to gear until your last day in office. People tend to address all sorts of issues to you before you leave. Start delegating work earlier.
  • Build in a day or two get a bit of distance to your job, allowing you to focus on the needs of your family or partner as well as getting into a holiday mood. Don’t rush totally exhausted from office to airport.
  • Reduce stress levels before going on holidays. Work outs are a good way to do so. Otherwise you will need your holiday just to reduce stress and before you can store some balance in your body you’re back in the race.
  • Avoid work during holidays a much as possible. Leave smart phones and computers switched off and in the hotel room. Avoid constant accessibility. Discover and learn while traveling. Both broaden your mind. (That is why we offer educational and inspirational getaway retreats.)
  • Plan to return to office mid-week instead of Mondays. This way we have a shorter 1st week and a week-end break from the stressful catch up period.
  • Keep your out-off-office message a day or two until after you have returned to office. This will enable you to settle in less stressful. You have time to get briefed by colleagues and your boss and you can check eMails before work “lunacy” returns.

Remember: Your body is not made for switching from top into first gear and back. Like sports people we all need a cool down and warm up period.

So how do You make sure your holidays work and you actually come back relaxed and re-energized?

Share your tips and ideas with us below in the comments.