Feeling Burnt Out? 5 Tips For Actually Unplugging on Vacation

Jun 2, 2019

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How many times have you had a “Network” moment where you just can’t take it anymore?

It turns out, that feeling of being utterly exhausted by overwork is a severe problem for which people can and do seek professional help. Last week, the World Health Organization just updated and expanded its definition of “burn-out” in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases, calling it a “syndrome” tied to “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

It’s being described as an “occupational phenomenon.”

So, what are the symptoms? “Loss of energy, exhaustion, loss of efficiency, lack of motivation, feeling distant from your job and/or having negative feelings about it are all indications of being burnt out,” Jennifer MacLeamy, psychologist and Executive Director at mental health facility Newport Academy, told The Points Guy. “Also, compassion fatigue, which is a symptom of chronic stress and gradual loss of compassion, associated with caregiving professions.”

Sound familiar? Well, not surprisingly, one of the best ways to combat those feelings is to take a break from work and book a getaway.

“A vacation can reset a chronically taxed nervous system, regulating stress levels,” said MacLeamy. “It also allows for physical recuperation time. Emotionally, a break allows people the time to step back and reevaluate their priorities in the workplace or in their caregiving role, and what they might be able to change about the way they approach their daily routine.”

The problem is, many of us bring work with us on getaways, which only increases burnout. According to a poll conducted by NPR, 30% of Americans focus a significant amount of energy on work during their vacation. So, how can you really decompress and relax on your next trip? Here are some expert tips.

Take a Digital Detox

Sitting on park bench overlooking bridge over water
(Photo by sid leigh / Unsplash)

Smartphones and access to Wi-Fi make it easy to be accessible all over the world. Plus, they make it tempting to scroll mindlessly on social media. But both of those things hinder your ability to truly step away from life back home.

“Attempt to check your phone, devices, email, etc. as little as possible,” advised MacLeamy. “If this is not realistic, limit yourself to designated ‘check in’ times.”

Put an out-of-office up, let colleagues and friends know you have limited access to the internet, and keep your phone in the room when you head out for the day.

Be One With Nature

Bike rider on bridge during sunset
(Photo by viktor kern / Unsplash)

After you’ve gotten rid of the technology for a while, the next step is to get outside.

“Fresh air and physical exercise are proven to decrease stress levels and increase endorphins to help you better decompress on vacation,” said MacLeamy. “Try going for a walk, going on a hike, going to the beach or taking a bike ride.”

Studies have even shown that regular exercise works as well as medicine in some cases to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. So, getting a good dose of activity outdoors could help give you the reboot you need. After all, there’s a reason so many wellness-inspired vacations exist today.

Practice Mindful Activities

Yoga Mountain top sunset
(Photo by eneko urunela / Unsplash)

Many of us turn to vacations as a chance to just veg out and indulge. But that could hinder any chance of returning home revitalized. Instead, use the time off to participate in more mindful experiences.

“Yoga is my personal favorite,” said MacLeamy. “But even something as simple as mindfully strolling through a new town or taking a few moments to relax and breathe deeply can be restorative and renewing.”

This will not only help you decompress, but also let you return to work with renewed energy and excitement. Alternately, you might find as you step away from the workplace that new goals and directions emerge. “Insights gained while on vacation can be incredibly powerful indicators of next steps,” said MacLeamy.

Enlist the Help of Family and Friends

Coffee Cup Book by Lake
(Photo by aaron burden / Unsplash)

It’s always easier to accomplish goals when you have a buddy supporting you along the way. Just like you might have a workout buddy at home, have a decompression pal on vacation.

“When traveling with others, it can be helpful to set the stage for your vacation by being explicit with your loved ones about your needs and goals,” said MacLeamy. “If you intend to spend time reading, thinking alone or loading up on restful activities, let your family know so they can help support you rather than increasing pressure to be active.”

Take Time to Rest

Man in hammock with dog in the woods
(Photo by heather mount / Unsplash)

It seems pretty obvious, but you need to just relax on vacation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than a third of American adults are sleep deprived. So, rest up.

“It can be tempting to squeeze in a lot of activities during a vacation, depending on the destination,” said MacLeamy. “Take the time to catch up on sleep and relaxation that you may be lacking so you can return to ‘normal life’ recharged and refreshed.”

No wonder NFL star Tom Brady and actresses such as Brooke Burke-Charvet have admitted to taking “sleepcations,” where they take a vacation just to catch some shuteye.

Featured photo by timon studler / Unsplash.

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