Are you thinking of skipping the summer break, checking your email during the break or maybe bringing your work to the annual family vacation? The answer is simple – Don’t!
The pandemic has affected us all, not just on a personal level, most companies and teams are still affected by the pandemic. The last 1,5 year have fundamentally changed our lives and the way we work together, and therefore this year’s summer break is more important than ever.
Several studies show that the performance-level suffers, when working for extended periods without breaks. On the opposite side, the benefits of actually taking a vacation shows an improvement in productivity and creativity, and lowers stress levels along with an overall improvement in mental health.
So, let’s state the obvious – you need to STOP working, take time to reflect and prepare for a flying start after the holiday season.
Mindcap offers you 7 tips and tools to check-out to the summer, slow down and boost your energy during the vacation.
1. Slow down smoothly.
Maybe you’re already sitting on a beach with a pina colada, or driving through Europe with your family, or maybe the vacation is slowly approaching. For many people, it’s common that the last weeks before going on vacation are packed with tasks and meetings that need to be checked off before the vacation, or maybe during the first week of your vacation. But driving at full speed until your vacation, with the risk of feeling that maybe you won’t have time to complete everything, might interfere with your energy and mood during the holiday.
Instead, you need to slow down smoothly during the last week before your vacation, and slowly ease your way into the holiday. Plan the last days before your holiday by ending earlier, and make sure you don’t have any meetings planned on the last working day before the summer break. This makes it easier for you to finish your tasks in a good way, and you will have the time to prepare yourself for the first week after the holidays.
By slowly turning down the speed and preparing your return from the vacation, it will be easier for you to let go of your thoughts and worries about upcoming projects and challenges, during your well-deserved break.
2. Boost yourself.
Right now, most of us are focusing on finishing our last projects, letting go and throwing ourselves into the calming vacation. But when we are returning from vacation, our thoughts and memories about work are faded, and the chances to focus on important insights and lessons from the past season are too. So, prioritize a moment on your last day of work, to identify important lessons and insights from a rather special and challenging spring, to create a foundation for an even better autumn, after the vacation. Try out this exercise to boost yourself and identifying your accomplishments: Reflect on the following questions, write them down, and hide it in your workspace until after the summer vacation.
What have you learned about yourself during the past year?
What have you learned about your colleagues during the past year?
What have you been surprised by during the past year?
What are you proud of about yourself?
What are you grateful for?
What do you want to continue with after the summer?
3. Check-out with your team.
Checking-out with your team is a ritual that you can use to round off a meeting, a workshop, the week, or the year. The process of checking-out in a team needs to be facilitated. It’s a ritual to close off a process together and should focus on what you each have been doing. The check-out invites each member in the group to be present, seen and heard, and it’s a way to create a common focus, because it helps people to reflect on the learnings and values of each member in the team.
Even though all of you might not go on vacation on the exact same day, making a common check-out before entering the vacation season strengthens the connection and trust in the team, and creates a stronger sense of belonging.
So before leaving for vacation, make a date with your team! Stand in a circle and choose one of the following questions that you one-by-one tell the group.
How has your experience been the past year?
What is the most important lesson you will bring with you from the past season?
What do you look most forward to after the vacation?
4. Lower your vacation demands.
Research shows that sometimes we do not feel recovered after the holidays, and might actually experience an increase in stress, because we simply are too stressed during the vacation time, and don’t manage to slow down and relax. The most common reason is that we want to do too many things during vacation times, and demand too much of ourselves.
You need to demand less of yourself during the vacation, and focus on what is important to YOU, and not all the specific activities you want to get done.
To prepare yourself on a vacation break, that focuses on your personal needs, try out this exercise:
Sit down with a piece of paper for 10 minutes and write down all the things that are important for you to do, while having a vacation. Forget your family and friends for these 10 minutes and focus only on yourself.
During your vacation, you should spend 50% of your time on doing the things on the paper in front of you.
5. Find your recovery fit.
The holiday is about recovery, not achievement. The holiday isn’t about catching up with everything you didn’t manage when working, painting the house, finishing the garden or visiting all your family, it’s about slowing down and recovering your mind and body.
Recovery is different from person to person, some recover best when being active and others thrive by reading books, watching TV or sleeping in. Nothing is right or wrong, and maybe you also need a little bit of both, but what matters is that you figure out how to re-boost your system in the best way.
Are you insecure about what works for you, try out this exercise:
Write down 10 things that you enjoy doing, and that gives you more energy.
Prioritize your list during your summer vacation.
6. A positive journal.
Another way of connecting with the positive side of life, is to use your vacation time to reflect on your daily experiences and continuously boost your mindset with a more positive view of life. By having a positive journal you train your mindset to focus on the ‘ups’ instead of sticking to the ‘downs’. The idea is that the journal can be an active tool when going back to the busy working days, where it sometimes can be hard to keep your head high and focus on the positive things.
Every evening start by listing 5 things that you feel are enjoyable and makes you happy. This helps you shift into a positive state of mind.
Next step is to think of an event during the day, where something didn’t go your way, and you felt irritated or upset. Describe the situation briefly in a few sentences on paper.
Afterwards, list 3 things that could have helped you see the bright side of the situation, or cope with it in a more positive way. Write it down. Try to do this exercise every night during your vacation.
7. Turn off everything!
Do you already have the urge to check out your email or voicemail? Don’t – It’s a strength to let go. Even though it is a great sign that you miss your work, and can’t wait to get back, vacation is more than just recovery. Vacation provides us with an opportunity to engage in autonomous experiences and it allows us to have uninterrupted time with our close friends, loved ones, and most importantly ourselves. So even though a vacation allows us to disengage from the stress from work and the daily rhythms, so we can replenish our mental and psychical energy, it also provides us with an exceptional opportunity to make a date with our best friend, our family, and ourselves.
So encourage yourself, your coworkers and your friends to embrace the well-deserved summer break, so you can return to work after the vacation with motivation and a new boost of energy.
Do you want more advice, tools, and exercises to boost your individual or team energy?
Go to mindcap.ai and get the app.
This article is written in collaboration with Johan Lundberg, VD, and Organizational psychologist at Changemaker Psychology.