As you all know, I had to take a forced vacation earlier this month.
And I say forced because I didn’t go willingly (in case it wasn’t clear ? ).
After two years since I went out on my own, having a vacation not only felt strange, but FOMO kicked in.
There were so many things to be done, new projects to be started that made the weeks before my time off very stressful and overwhelming.
I was to be out only for a week, yet it felt like a lifetime.
What if I forget to explain something I do to my colleagues and it doesn’t get done?
This was the question I asked myself every single day prior to my vacation.
Don’t get me wrong.
We have a fantastic team here at Spin Sucks and Arment Dietrich, and they did a great job while I was out of the office.
The conversations playing in my head weren’t about them and their skills, but about me.
For the last two years I’ve been on a fast-forward track and I just didn’t know how to slow down.
I am pretty sure I drove Gini Dietrich crazy with my questions and whining about having to go on this forced vacation.
Good thing we are a virtual company, otherwise she might have felt tempted to throw something at me to shut me up and make me take my forced vacation earlier.
And that’s how my forced vacation started: With me feeling anxious and not knowing what to do with myself and the free time at hand.
I had the common sense to book a trip to the Mediterranean sea, so I wouldn’t be at home and tempted to work.
Though it may seem a short time for so much whining and worrying, there are some valuable lessons I learned.
Four Life Lessons from a Forced Vacation
As strange as it may sound, you need to slow down if you want to go on a vacation.
You need to leave everything finished at work, so you won’t worry.
And then you need to prepare your mind for the time off.
Going on vacation with the same mindset and adrenaline you go to work, is a bad idea.
You won’t be able to slow down and enjoy. Your brain will be set on solving problems.
Take the time to disconnect from work before starting your holiday.
Go for a walk, clean the house, read a book.
Whatever works for you.
This is very much tied to slowing down.
To be present and be able to enjoy your vacation, you need to slow down (see above).
We are on auto-pilot.
We go throughout the day putting out fires at work, checking social media, email, half-listening conversations with our significant other or family.
It’s time for you to be mindful about your thoughts and actions.
Every time you catch your mind wandering around, bring it back to present and make a conscious effort to stay present.
Whether it’s listening to the morning noise, watching the waves at the beach, or talking to the person next to you, be in the moment.
It takes time, but it will help you relax your mind and body.
You will feel free and very much alive.
Challenge Your Brain to Switch
Every day at work we train our minds to think and react in a certain way.
We are always alert and focused.
But when it comes to time off, you need to train your brain to switch from alert to enjoyment.
You need to pay attention to your thoughts and make a conscious effort to switch.
During my forced vacation I found myself thinking about work and to-do lists.
I had to force myself to stay present and not let my mind wander.
When we train our brains to go a certain route (as we do for work), they will take that route every time you’re not paying attention.
Why? It’s easy.
Your brain knows that route. It’s a safe route and it can switch to auto-pilot.
Remember our brains are programmed for the fight or flight mode.
So when there is no threat to your safety, it goes on auto-pilot.
Challenge your brain to be in the moment and notice everything around you.
Yes, just breathe!
This was a big lesson for me to learn.
Stop worrying about anything and everything.
Stop over-analyzing things.
Stop thinking five steps ahead.
Just stop and breathe.
Feel the air in your lungs, notice the beauty of your surroundings and be grateful for the beautiful life you have.
I came back from my forced vacation excited to be back at work.
As much as I liked being away from the daily life, I realized once again how much I love what I do.
It’s part of me, it’s who I am…and this holiday just reinforced that.
Now the floor is yours: Did you go on a holiday this summer? What did you learn from your time off?
image credit: shutterstock and Mihai Petre.