Work-life balance is a popular topic among Human Resource leaders and career-minded professionals alike, but how do you know when you need more life and less work?
According to Entrepreneur.com some telltale signs that a break is just what you need include irritability, lack of focus, and constant mistakes happening that you normally wouldn’t make. However, not all breaks are created equal. In particular, breaks that boost productivity require both psychological detachment and positive emotional experiences according to Dr. Larissa Barber of Psychology Today.
That explains why you can take a long weekend trip to visit family but come back feeling completely drained. Planning out a break may seem counter-intuitive but I’ve found it to help increase my productivity before and after the break, allow me to relax during the break, and prevent me from staying in bed all day. Vacations, staycations, playcations, and short breaks are all effective methods to breaking according to VeryWellMind.com.
Let’s explore how to make the most of out your next big, or small, break.
The first tip of any vacation is to travel within your means. In other words, do not vacation via credit card. If stress relief is your aim, the last thing you want to come home to is a sky-high credit card bill. Start small with road trips and then expand to international getaways with what you can afford.
Also, plan out just 50-75% of your day depending on how adventurous and spontaneous you are. Chances are some things may take longer than you expected and you may find an attraction where you want to spend more time.
It’s a good idea to include some form of relaxation like swimming, yoga, and meditation.
Speaking of relaxation, if you’re going with family or friends plan activities that you all can do separately. Sometimes the environmental noise of a small crowd can become stressful during the vacation. If you find the group meshes well, minimize that alone time. Conversely, if you find the group bickering constantly, up your alone time or find someone that you can be at peace with for the next few days.
Lastly, try to maintain your sleep schedule if at all possible. The less jet lag you have to deal with on your way back, the better!
Despite its name, I don’t recommend staying in bed. Chances are if you stay in bed, you’ll find yourself constantly falling asleep which may cause a disruption to your circadian rhythm, also known as your body’s natural sleep pattern.
At the same time, resist the urge to clean your house or spend the entire day plugged into the TV or social media. Use this opportunity to take a trip to the spa, enroll in a yoga class for the day, or pamper yourself at home for a budget-friendly staycation.
A staycation is a great opportunity to get some alone time, so try to do this one solo. You’ll be more connected than ever and will have had an opportunity to reconnect creatively.
A cousin to staycation, a playcation involves finding an activity you either enjoy or have been dying to try. Conversely, playcations are a great opportunity to plan a day out with a friend, child, or significant other. It’s a great idea to go for a morning or afternoon activity so that you aren’t rushing home to get ready for the next workday and allows you to wake up the next morning for work refreshed.
If you are doing something active remember to bring essentials like bug spray, sunscreen, and medications to ensure your playcation doesn’t turn into a trip to the emergency room.
If you’re in the early stages of your career, vacation days may not be a realistic option for you. In those cases, I recommend taking frequent short breaks throughout the day to ensure you’re at your best.
During your break, close all your email tabs down to decrease the amount of sensory overload you’re experiencing. Also, step away from your computer and take a moment to chat with a coworker about how their weekend went, or how their dog is doing, or if they’ve seen the latest Marvel movie.
Don’t use this time to participate in office gossip since it can be very damaging to your career and creates negative emotions, preventing the key element of a positive emotional experience from happening. If you’re really feeling overwhelmed. Take a trip around the cubicle and perform a few breathing exercises to minimize the anxiety.
No matter which break you take, if you’re strategic about how you do it you’ll come back refreshed and ready to tackle the next endeavor. Don't allow yourself to be overwhelmed by trying to power through. Taking a step back may be exactly what you need. and before you know it you'll be ahead of the game and ready to take on the next big project.