It happens to the best of us: enjoying the relaxation and comfort of a well-deserved vacation, only to be gripped by total panic- I haven’t checked my email in a whole four hours. Is there enough service out here for someone to text me if there’s an office emergency? I definitely rescheduled that important meeting for when I get back to work…. right?
In the fast-paced professional world, the mere idea of taking a vacation can induce anxiety. When that idea becomes reality, the to-do list ahead of our departure feels practically insurmountable. For ambitious women, common fears are that stepping away from work will hinder our progress or create a mountain of projects upon our return. And let’s not forget our all time favorite fear, FOMO- the fear of missing out on any potential opportunities. Between shuffling schedules and delegating tasks, we find ourselves in an internal bargaining war for our own time off: Is this vacation even worth the trouble?
The short answer: yes.
It's crucial to recognize the importance of self-care and rejuvenation to maintain our productivity and well-being. Believe it or not, your vacation doesn’t have to come with a price tag of worry-induced headaches. And if that’s been your experience this year, it might be time to rethink your (temporary) exit strategy.
Here are a few key adjustments that will allow you to spend your vacation time in peace instead of pressure.
If your goal is to embark on a stress-free vacation, it's necessary to rethink how you’re scheduling your work and personal commitments. Are you chronically overscheduled? Ahead of your trip, identify tasks that can be delegated, postponed, or eliminated altogether. Prioritize what’s most important, and shuffle or offload the rest. Make arrangements to complete your simplest tasks upon your return, easing you back into your regular flow.
By streamlining your workload and establishing clear priorities, you create space for relaxation and adventure. Remember, being fully present during your vacation will ultimately enhance your productivity upon your return. From the accomplishment of completing important items, to the relaxation of time off, to the momentum of easily checking off your simplest tasks once you’re back-- there’s no room for anxiety in a well-prioritized workflow.
In our hyper-connected world, it's easy to succumb to the constant pull of emails, notifications, and work-related responsibilities. Our smartphones are designed to be addicting, and when our work lives in our pocket, it can be hard to truly get your brain off the clock.
In order to embrace worry-free vacations, give yourself permission to unplug. Set clear boundaries-- with others and with yourself-- by turning off work notifications and resisting the urge to check emails. (The world won’t end, we promise.) Instead, immerse yourself in the present moment. Reconnect with nature, engage in self-reflection, and indulge in activities that bring you joy. If those activities require you to leave your phone behind, even better. Remember, your well-being is essential, and true empowerment comes from nurturing yourself. Turn your phone on “Do Not Disturb,” and thank us later.
Of course, turning off your push notifications is easier said than done. One common source of vacation anxiety is the fear of leaving work responsibilities unattended. This is especially true for women in fast-paced, demanding roles. You might be intimately familiar with the phrase, “If I don’t do it, who will?”
To alleviate this concern, empower your team by delegating tasks and fostering collaboration. Communicate your expectations clearly, provide necessary resources, and trust in your colleagues' abilities. For best results, provide ample notice ahead of your departure, and allow time to iron out any questions they may have. Remember, true leadership lies in building a supportive network that can thrive even when you're away. If you don’t want a burnt-out and overworked colleague, trust us-- neither do they! Let your vacation become an opportunity to build trust and appreciation in your team.
Vacations should be a time to rejuvenate and recharge, not a source of guilt or worry. In a culture that hyper-values what we’re doing, we have lost the beauty of simply being. When pausing productivity spikes your anxiety, even if you’re not on vacation, this is a key mental shift to make.
Cultivate a mindset of abundance and trust in your capabilities. This might require some inner work and releasing long-held beliefs; your worth is not tied to your output, and you are not weak or lazy for choosing to take a vacation. Recognize that taking time off is an investment in your personal and professional growth. Trust that you have built a solid foundation, and your absence will not hinder your progress. Embrace the art of letting go, and allow yourself to fully enjoy the fruits of your labor.
As professional women on a constant quest to reach our own potential, it's vital that we prioritize self-care and embrace vacations without anxiety. Remember, true success lies not only in professional accomplishments, but also in our ability to nurture ourselves. The next time you plan some time off, remember these key strategies, and get your vacation anxiety off the clock-- for good.