Overloading your schedule before you leave increases your body’s production of the stress hormone cortisol
Picture this: you’re lying beside the pool, a delicious cocktail within arm’s reach and a tropical breeze gently washing over you. Bliss! It’s so tranquil, and you’ve waited so long for this trip, yet… you can’t help wondering what’s happening in the office right now. How did that difficult client respond to the email you fired off before you left? What’s happening with that project you’re in charge of? Within seconds you’ve picked up your phone and logged into your emails, your holiday vibe melting away faster than the ice in your cocktail.
Welcome to vacation sabotage, a situation where stressed-out workers, used to rushing through life at a hundred miles an hour, find it incredibly challenging to stop and fully enjoy leisure time. You might be physically on holiday but mentally, you’re still at work – which is anything but the purpose of annual leave.
“We can find it hard to change gear or switch pace if our lives are generally busy and require a certain level of constant frenetic energy and cognitive overload,” explains psychologist Jocelyn Brewer. “It might take some people a few days to disconnect their mental habits.
"I think relaxing on holidays, for some, also involves the worry about what’s happening while they’re away, what things might go wrong or whether the person replacing them – if there is one – is managing,” she says.
Technology isn’t exactly helping, with smartphones and wifi making it all too easy to stay connected to work. When you’re engaged in work, you’re at work – regardless of where you are in the world, Jocelyn says.
“We’re tempted to keep up with our emails and oversee what’s happening at work, read the newsletters, white papers or reports we never have time for, or other tricks that might seem valuable or virtuous, but are simply not allowing our brains space from the mental work of work.”
Why holidays matter
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