There are clear signs that summer is arriving in North Carolina. The 90-degree weather is an obvious sign. Others include: tens of thousands of college graduates with families in every restaurant, vibrant green landscapes, and the Friday afternoon traffic delays due to people headed east to the beach or west to the mountains for their favorite vacation.
“I need a vacation from my vacation”
Our family enjoyed multiple years of being part of the beach caravan to the beautiful beaches of North Carolina. A week at the beach is transforming, as there is no agenda except to eat, sleep, play, and read. However, as we began to explore other options for time away, the “work” to get away and trying to do everything possible during our time off, became counter productive. We were not alone in this feeling. Many times we heard the same refrain of vacation fatigue: I need a vacation from my vacation.
A few years ago I realized I was expecting a one-week vacation to be a cure all for an overworked life. In reality, it took the first 3 days off just to unwind from the mental and emotional engagement of work. Day 3 was when I felt like I was on vacation, unplugged and having fun. By Day 6 thoughts of getting back to work began imposing themselves, creating the dilemma of mental fatigue and unrest returning.
Two vital takeaways have come from this awareness:
1) We can expect too much from vacation if we lack healthy boundaries and margins in our lives week by week.
2) Regular and longer breaks from work are needed: a two-week break in mid-year, a one-week break at the end of the year, and some extended weekends in-between.
What Should a Good Vacation Do for You?
Allow you to unplug from work. I recently heard a CEO share a company policy of no tolerance for employees to do any work while on vacation. No emails, calls, etc. His point? We need you to unplug so you come back recharged to work.
Recharge your batteries. Not all vacations automatically recharge you. For instance visiting family may be necessary, but may not have the same recharge effect as time fishing or exploring a new city. Ask yourself, what will recharge me?
Renew your spirit. Work can deplete our spirit as much as our bodies and mind. There is more to life than work. Vacations allow us to participate in activities that actually renew our spirit.
Refresh relationships. Vacations are best spent with people you love. Having time to be with these people in different settings, following different rhythms can infuse our relationships with fresh life and deeper bonds.
Reset the healthy margins in life. Hopefully, a vacation pushes a reset button that aligns our life with proper margins and equips us to resist some of the old and tiring patterns.
Tips to Vacation like a Pro
Enough Time- Try taking two consecutive weeks off mid-year. You can even take 7 of those days away, but the other 7 spend “stay-cationing”.
Change of Routine- We have found breaking routines and creating ones that are vacation specific really help make it special and refreshing. . An early morning long walk on the beach, or explore a new city with a stop at a local breakfast shop.
Activities that energize you – We have found being active is much better than just sitting around. But, the activity is not busyness. Rather it is doing the things you find most enjoyable with your time.
People You Enjoy- Family and close friends are usually the best for great vacation experiences.
Don’t break the bank – I don’t recommend going into debt for a vacation. It isn’t about how much money you spend, but more about being present with the people and experiences you choose. There are some great deals out there for good vacations.
Let the vacations begin!