As much as we love going on vacation and taking time off from work, returning to work after time off can be stressful! An inbox full of unread emails, a to-do list that gets longer with each passing day, and of course, the reality of not being on vacation anymore can bring up feelings of overwhelm or sadness. It can be a lot to process and can give us post-vacation blues on the last days of our time off.
If this sounds familiar to you – I have good news. It doesn’t have to be that way!
Coming back to work after a vacation can be a stress-free time of productivity and ease. In this article, I’m sharing my process to help you SUSTAIN the feelings of rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation that you received from your vacation as you transition into your regular work routine. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3, A, B, C!
Step 1: Ease Back into Your Life After Time Off
Part of why it’s so hard to go back to work after vacation is because we often try to jump right into where we left off without giving ourselves time to adjust to the transition. Whether you were away for a weekend staycation at a hotel or a month-long sabbatical on a remote island, you likely have experienced a shift - physically, mentally, and emotionally. Trying to dive right back into work-mode without giving yourself time and space to honor this transition can leave you feeling unmotivated, frustrated, or overwhelmed. That’s why easing back into your life after taking time off is the first step to a stress-free return to work. Here’s how:
A) Try to stay connected to the sense of ease and positivity from your time off. Lean into and embody the positive emotions you nurtured during your vacation. Take your time and give yourself both mental and emotional space to return to work, your social life or daily routines.
B) Get back into your regular self-care routine. Your self-care routine may fall through the cracks when you are on vacation (and that’s OK!) but getting back into your self-care routine can act as an anchor to ground you and bring you back to yourself. A morning journaling practice, regular yoga classes, or an evening meditation session before bed - whatever your self-care routine looks like, getting back to it can help you deal with other aspects of your work routine that may be feeling overwhelming or unbalanced after some time away.
C) Follow your pre-planned, time-blocking schedule. If you followed my 8-step process for a stress–free vacation, you scheduled some time blocks in the week after your vacation. Use this time to complete the tasks you had planned and stay productive. You’ve got this!
Step 2: Lean into the 3 ‘Ates’ - Delegate, Procrastinate, Eliminate
This step is based on something I learned from my life and business coach Katie Peuvrelle (adapted from Rory Vaden) and it has helped me tremendously when I am overwhelmed. Coming back from vacation to the “real world”, you may feel inundated with a million tasks to handle. Instead of trying to tackle them all by yourself, lean into the 3 ‘Ates’.
A) Delegate: Take a look at your to-do list and see which tasks can be delegated to someone else to do. It could be your partner, children, or hired help for household tasks like doing the laundry or getting groceries. In your business, delegate to employees or team members. It may even be useful to record a video explaining the task or showing them how to do a repetitive task.
B) Procrastinate: It is okay to procrastinate within reason because not everything on your to-do list is a priority. Make a conscientious decision about which tasks to procrastinate, rather than doing it out of fear or without awareness. You can be mindful and intentional about which tasks to do now, and which to push to a later time when you have more capacity and bandwidth which gives you back your power.
C) Eliminate: Review your to-do list to see which tasks you can remove completely. It could be tasks you have had on your to-do list for a long time that are no longer important, or it could be things that you simply don’t have time, energy, or money to spend doing at the moment. Give yourself permission to take it off your list and feel the weight lift off your shoulders!
Step 3: Ask for Help to Support Your Return After Vacation
For many of us who are caregivers and caretakers, asking for help can be challenging but it is an important part of being able to gracefully return to our regular routines and life after taking time off. In this time of transition (and at other times too!), we can give ourselves grace in asking for support. You don’t have to do it alone! There are a few places we might turn to for help:
A) Yourself and/or your higher power(s): Returning from vacation can be difficult and your schedule may be completely disrupted. Instead of panicking, you can trust yourself to be able to find that balance and ease in your life again, whether that’s through meditation or giving yourself permission. You can also turn to the Universe, God, or any other higher power for support and allow yourself to have confidence and faith that your life will return to how you enjoy it.
B) Bosses, colleagues, and team members: In a work or business setting, it can be useful to communicate if you are feeling overwhelmed and ask for help. This may look like asking for guidance in re-prioritizing your tasks, requesting some projects be taken off your plate, or telling your colleagues exactly how they can pitch in to ease your workload.
C) Family members or other members of the household: On the personal front, adopt a divide-and-conquer strategy for tasks around the house or related to the family. If you are used to running the household, this may be uncomfortable but allow your family to step up and support you by expressing yourself honestly.
Vacation and time off is an excellent way to refresh, rejuvenate, and reinvigorate yourself, but adapting back to daily life brings its own challenges. If you're looking to get back into your self-care routine as quickly as possible, learn how to prioritize your to-do list, and set boundaries around your time, Time Management 101 is the perfect resource for you. In this mini-course designed especially for wellness entrepreneurs, you’ll learn how to time block, manage your projects, and prioritize so you have more time for the things that matter (like self-care!) Find out more here.