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Blue Monday is commonly known as the most depressing day of the year. But this year I decided not to let it affect me and book a two week bus tour around the west coast of America. Alone...
It was a nerve-wracking prospect but I knew that having two weeks away was a chance for me to switch off completely from the hustle and bustle of work – giving myself a bit of TLC.
Being able to switch off is a lot harder than it sounds and is something lots of us struggle with so here are three ways I did it that you might want to try!
Before booking any time off, try to make sure you are not missing anything important (even if it’s one day off!). Plan around your modules and deadlines and if there is something happening when you plan to be away, figure out with your coach and line manager if you can rearrange or hand in any work before the deadlines. If it is impossible, consider another date. You’ll only end up feeling stressed when you’re away if you know you’re missing important things.
Once your holiday is approved and booked, send a calendar invite to your team and coach so they are aware you are not in the office, and remind them via email or in person the week before you go.
Once your holiday comes closer, make sure you have everything work-related covered or completed.
I have tasks that I do on a weekly basis that I cannot prepare for the week before. In my case, I asked my team if they could cover my tasks while I was away. It’s important to ask for support from your team whilst you’re away well in advance - remember they have their own workload and will be fitting in your work on top of everything they normally do so respect their time.
It’s also useful to create a handover list of all things that have to be completed while you are away and send this to your team well in advance of your holiday so they have time to ask questions. It can be useful to take your team through your handover in person so they can ask questions there and then and you can go away happy in the knowledge that nothing will be missed whilst you’re off.
Once you are away, make sure you have your out of office on (automatic email reply sent to the sender to let them know you are not available) and turn off anything work related on your phone.
Switching off was the best thing I did. Before I left for America, I put my out of office on and included my line manager’s contact details in case anything urgent was required. I must admit I did look at my emails once or twice but the longer my holiday went on, the need went away.
Doing all these things allowed me to both relax and enjoy my time away, and push myself outside my comfort zone. It was amazing. I stopped hiding behind my phone and lived in the moment. I went on a rollercoaster that shot me back and forward while 1,149 ft in the air at The Stratosphere in Las Vegas, I sat on a rock by the edge of the Grand Canyon, I saw iconic landmarks and I made friends with people from different countries and cultures.
Being able to be in the moment and not worry about anything at work was amazing for my mental health; it gave me the boost I needed once I returned to work to push myself to achieve more in my role.
I most definitely have wanderlust, as I am off on another mini adventure in September.