Holidays rest our bodies, but they also need to be seen as brain balancing breaks. It is worth taking a look at how we use our time off to help our working life.
Quite a few years ago I read a parenting book by Kay Willis and Maryann Bucknum Brinley called Are We Having Fun Yet?: The 16 Secrets of Happy Parenting. While I cannot remember all 16 secrets, the one that stuck was this: You cannot be a successful parent unless you take time to nurture yourself. It was the one aspect of being a parent that I struggled with the most. The guilt trip voice in my head that said I was a bad parent if I took time out to treat myself. I think the same theory applies to work life. We almost always have that fear that things will go pear-shaped if we are not there and feel guilty for taking time away from the office. Take a breath and repeat after me: “My work will benefit if I take the time to get away and replenish my reserves.”
The first and most obvious step is to leave work behind you. If your holiday is coming up, make sure that any deadline related work is off your desk and complete. Anything that needs to be followed up is delegated to someone else. Get your head around not checking your email while you are away. Let the people in the office know that this is what you intend to do. If you have a good team and you delegate well, why should you need to oversee everything? Set up your email to divert to a colleague’s inbox, or set up an auto reply.
Here are some of our suggestions for brain balancing breaks:
- Challenge your creative side – sign up for an art workshop in a beautiful location. There are endless courses available worldwide, from watercolour workshops in the country side to photographic safaris with a wildlife photographer as a teacher. You do not have to be adept at art to take a course, all you have to be is willing to play out of your comfort zone and smile at the results. If you work in a highly analytical field, this is an ideal way of letting the non-analytical side of your brain get its day(s) in the sun. Plan to carry on playing with colour and light as an outlet and creativity expander.
- Walk it off – Steve Jobs , Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Friedrich Nietsche, all espoused walking as way to get creative ideas flowing. You could take yourself on a long ramble through very wild country, or just take the time to explore you own city on foot. On bad weather days, public art galleries provide miles of hallways and plenty to look at. While you are taking these essential steps – make a plan to fit a walk into every day when you are back at work.
- Order the chaos – Our personal lives sometimes get a little cluttered and crazy when we are working, especially if our jobs are demanding. Decluttering personal spaces takes time and is something we tend to put off. But like all things deferred, these chores niggle away in the back of our minds and are energy draining. De-clutter your space, give unused items to charity and make your home a lovely welcoming space instead of jumble of stuff. Then:
- Feed your soul – Get together with people you want to spend time with. Eat good food, laugh a lot and best of all, have great conversations that fire the imagination.
Finally, if you are travelling, treat yourself to transition time. Don’t leap off a plane and rush to the office the next day, give yourself a few days to sort out clothes and put items away before stepping back, refreshed into the working world.