The Value of Vacation– A Chance to Unwind and Refocus

As I sit on the lanai with mai tai in hand it’s easy to see that we don’t have enough down time. I never considered myself a workaholic. But even for the underachiever I claim to be, I find myself spending a lot of my waking moments discussing and thinking about work. Today is day seven of my Hawaiian family vacation and I am just starting to consistently not have work somewhere on my mind. Why is it that so many of us can’t seem to find the time to unwind?

Unplug – It starts the Process

Work is constantly at our fingertips with all of our various devices. I don’t do it often but this time I decided to delete my work email from my phone; it felt good. I didn’t for a moment miss all the email.  My unread email dropped in half and I even found a few personal emails that I had missed. While I know many of us have issues taking this step, I would encourage you to try it out and see if it works for you.

If you are like me, you worry about coming back to work with a very full inbox. In this case, just login to your work email for a bit from a laptop and clean out the junk so you only have to deal with the essentials upon your return to work. There are a lot of corporate environments that actually turn off people’s email when they are on vacation. Makes sense to me.

Find Something to Pass the Time

Distractions can vary by vacation.  For example, next January I am going helicopter skiing. The distraction for that vacation will entail a lot of physical activity. This Hawaiian vacation is very different. I have spent most of the time at a pool or beach. These daily distractions of the lapping shoreline or poolside have really allowed me the opportunity to sit back, stare at the clouds and begin to unwind.

Getting distracted has allowed me to not have work on my mind and begin to realize what I value in life. I enjoy my work but it doesn’t define me and this downtime at the beach has really allowed me the vantage to understand what is important. Sometimes you need to walk away from something to provide you better focus. Vacation will do this as long as you are un-plugged enough and can find something to pass the time.

Preparing for Re-Entry

As I sit here I am beginning to realize that I will be back at work in a few days. However, what I have also realized is that before leaving I had a variety of items on my “To Do” list. Mentally thumbing through this list, it is also very apparent that there are items on this list that I do not need to do. I think this came from my ability to re-focus by taking a vacation. Sometimes as we get caught up in the day-to-day grind, we are unable to see the forest from the trees. Vacation (a good vacation) is a way to unplug, unwind and re-focus yourself as you get back to reality.

For more reading on the importance of vacationing and unwinding, check out:

The Art of Taking Vacation

Garrett Dunwoody is part of the GovLoop Featured Contributor program, where we feature articles by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Contributor posts, click here.

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Francesca El-Attrash

I felt myself getting jealous while reading this post. But great points here Garrett, hope you have a wonderful rest of your vacay!

Nya Jackson

Same here Fran! I think it’s also important to be intentional about vacation days. For example, if all of your paid time off is lumped together making sure that you actually allocate some of those days for vacations and unwinding and not using all of them for appointments and errands. Otherwise you don’t really end up getting a chance to unwind.