Well-Being//

6 Ways to Fully Relax on Vacation

Here’s how to let go of work stress and actually enjoy your PTO.

Poh Kim Yeoh / EyeEm / Getty Images
Poh Kim Yeoh / EyeEm / Getty Images

With the constant chiming of social media and email notifications, and a full workload to return to, it can be difficult to mentally disconnect from your responsibilities and fully unwind and enjoy your time off. But concerns about catching up when you get back don’t have to bring you down — it’s possible to live in the moment. Some of us are just better at this than others!

So we asked members of the Thrive Global community to share the tried-and-tested strategies they use that make it easier to fully relax on vacation.

Prep in advance so you can be fully present

“To truly relax, I need to know that I can be present while on vacation. I let clients and work know that I’ll be out of the office for a period of time, as well as when I’ll start taking calls and checking email again. I set away messages and switching on ‘do not disturb’ settings. This gives me permission to park my phone and leave work behind, especially when I feel the urge to begin checking in on everything. During the trip, I tell those around me that I’m thankful to be with them in that present moment, and simply relax.”

—Josh Neuer, licensed professional counselor, Greenville, SC

Disconnect with tech and connect with people

“If I’m in true ‘vaycay’ mode, I completely disconnect from all electronics and rely on social interactions with real people for directions, recommendations, conversation, and connection. That means no TV, computer, mobile phone, or tablet. No news, no movies, no calls, no emails, and no surfing the Internet. Vacationing this way is my happy place.”

—Lisa Cypers Kamen, optimal lifestyle management expert, Los Angeles, CA

Go all in and let go of the guilt

“It’s really hard to truly relax and unplug. I used to only be able to do it when I went off the grid completely. However, my new strategy is to invest fully in wherever I am. If I’m at work, I’m all in. If I’m at home, I’m all in. I think that work-life balance is a myth, and trying to attain it can make you feel overwhelmed. So I put all of my effort into whichever place I’m at, and then I don’t need to feel guilty about not thinking about work when I’m at home or on vacation. I worry a lot less, and enjoy everything a lot more.”

—Stacey S., program specialist, Storrs, CT

Get lost in a good book or magazine — and not your phone

“I bring a magazine and a good book with me to escape in while on vacation and unplug from digital media. I just bring along my phone for emergencies and pictures. While on vacation, I fully emerge, ready to take in all the beauty and adventure.”

—Camellia Varnado, HR supervisor, Dallas, TX

Embrace some silence

“I make some of my vacations silent meditation retreats — there’s no reading, writing, talking, etc. My first one lasted for 10 days and was very challenging, but each has become increasingly relaxing since. More importantly, they give me skills, beliefs, and experiences to make the rest of my life more calming, especially instances that used to cause me the most stress.”

—Joshua Spodek, PhD MBA, author, leadership coach and professor, New York, NY

Immerse yourself in nature

“A camping vacation is the perfect digital detox for me. A week prior to my departure, I send clients an email with the dates I’ll be out, and say that I’ll have no access to any digital devices.  This allows clients to schedule things in advance or after my return. Spending time hiking, swimming, or kayaking helps me focus on interactions with both nature, family, and friends, without any device distractions. Sharing stories around a campfire, watching the stars, and listening to night sounds cleanses the digital toxins. After a camping vacation, I return to work feeling renewed and ready to handle the world.”

—Jackie Abramian, PR, social media marketing executive, Kittery, ME

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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