"I simply can't take time away from work. I am too important! I have too much to do!"
Well, you are wrong! I know it because I was just as wrong when I was thinking the same things. Back when I was doing my 7-day workweeks of 16-hour workdays at one of my startups. And I would crash and burn if I didn’t take time off.
But how do we disconnect from work when we take a vacation? How to get a vacation in your mind as well? Otherwise you would be sitting by the lake/sea/ocean constantly run scenarios in your head, re-playing conversation with your bosses and colleagues, having second thoughts about your recent actions or simply planning your work and compiling to-do lists for next Monday.
OK, this is what I have learned. First of all, ease yourself into the vacation mindset before your trip. Take a vacation before the vacation! Set aside half a day just to get in the mood and do a little mindfulness exercise. This is what you would do:
Take time to think about it: Which version of yourself are you going to take on vacation?
Imagine your overworked self at the office and leave them there. Bring your mindful self to the vacation. This mindful self can chill out, enjoy the time with family or friends, and sometimes can look down with a little pity on your overworked self in the office :-)
After this now just relax and go through your itinerary in your mind. Visualize what it may be like on your trip. What will you do, what will you see, and more importantly: what kind of experience are you looking to have?
And to close this mini-vacation put in some gratefulness at the end, focus on how lucky you are to have this vacation, be thankful that you will have the luxury of taking a whole week off.
As you go on your trip make it clear for your family or your friends that you want to take a mindful vacation. Set your intentions together. Don’t miss this step! Peace and quiet will not going to just happen accidentally.
Then at the vacation site plan for everything to take longer than you’d expect, and relax into the fact that you’re on vacation, so that’s just fine.
Schedule some unscheduled time when you just will do nothing. Daydream in hammocks, stroll around and just let things happen spontaneously.
No electric stuff - that would be ideal, huh? For a week! But sometimes disconnecting yourself entirely can be just as stressful! So find a middle ground that works for you. Find what works for you and stick to it. Catch yourself falling out from your routine and go right back in.
Be like water: swim out a bit and just float in the ocean, sea, lake or pool and feel your thoughts and worries just float away from you. Even 5 minutes of this can reset your mind.
If you are a mindfulness pro set time aside to meditate for 20 minutes every morning. Use your regular routine or an app like Headspace.
If you miss a day do a mini-meditation: close your eyes and just take three deep breath inhaling peace, exhaling tension.
A good trick is to find meditative pleasure in simple tasks like peeling and chopping vegetables for the dinner you are cooking. Instead of hurrying through these tasks you can use them to slow you down and chill.
Take time to appreciate the place that you are staying in by bringing a curious attentiveness to your surroundings.
Instead of taking your surroundings for granted, ask yourself questions in order to bring your focus to the now; What can I see around me? What colors do I notice? What noises do I hear? Are they loud or soft? What is the texture of the road I am walking on? Where do I feel the morning sun on my body the most? Such questions all attempt to do the same thing: to bring your undivided attention to the here and now.
Actively practicing mindfulness allows us to bring our attention to exactly what is unfolding right now in the present moment. In short, mindfulness involves being wholly in the present moment; not in past thoughts or future worries, but just the here and now, from one breath to the next.
Give your full attention to the present moment whenever you can. Using only one or two of the tips above can help you relax and reload in only a week.
Hint: most of these practices will help you in the workplace as well :)
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