5 Steps to Embrace the Vacation Mindset with Vacation Mindfulness

Leaving on vacation is one of the best feelings in the world. You’ve packed your bags, confirmed your travel plans, and told your co-workers that you’re “Outta Here.” However to fully embrace the vacation mindset, it helps to borrow a few lessons from mindfulness. This way when you depart on vacation, your mind, body, and soul will truly be “on vacation” without carrying excess work-life baggage.

Try out my 5 ways to empower you to have a mindful vacation for yourself. Learn how to get rid of that stress, worry, and nagging feeling that you forgot to do something or that something bad is going to happen while you are away. Take the time to follow these mental exercises as you prepare to go on your next vacation. You’ll start to feel the benefits of a vacation mindset from the moment you depart until the moment you return. That is the goal of being mindful about fulfilling your work-life-vacation balance needs.

Mindful Vacation Tip 1 - Checklist

1. Check Off Your Going On Vacation Checklist

Yay, vacation time is on the way! As you tick off the weeks, days, and hours before the start of your next vacation, check off the items on your own vacation “To Do” list. Your checklist is simply a list of tasks items that you must accomplish before you can successfully leave work and life behind to go on vacation. It is your vacation project plan. Your payment for getting work and life things done is the ultimate reward of vacation time off.

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To set the stage for a mindful vacation, make it your goal to check off every item on your list before you leave. Limit your stress by not over-planning and over-documenting everything that you must do before a trip. Set yourself up for success by creating a list of action items that you know you can get done. By checking off each item one by one, you’ll start to feel the joy of anticipating your upcoming vacation well before it begins.

Try your best to time it so you can check off the last item on your going on vacation checklist well before you actually leave. That way you can move into vacation mindfulness mode at the earliest opportunity. However don’t worry if you have to wait until you are in the car or airport shuttle to check off those last few times as that’s bound to happen.

Have you checked off that last item? Now pause to focus inwardly on your feelings about taking this vacation. Since your entire list is complete you know that you are ready to leave work and life behind in peace. This sense of accomplishment is your first step toward experiencing a mindful vacation.

Mindful Vacation Tip 2 - Disconnect Life

2. Disconnect Your Routine Life Before Travel

We all want to be connected, but one of the reasons for taking a vacation is to disconnect from your work and home responsibilities and the stresses that come with them. Every time you check your email, watch the TV news, take care of household chores, or search online for solutions to your problems, you remain firmly stuck in your routine.

This is your opportunity to disconnect by turning off all those distractions and reminders of your life and for many of us, our lack of work-life-vacation balance. Make it a plan for you and your family or travel partners to turn it off the night before you leave on vacation.

Here is a list of ways in which you can ease yourself into the vacation mindset by disconnecting from your home routine and digital world.

  • Clean and straighten up your home a day or two before so you can settle down your routine in advance.
  • Stop delivery of your newspaper so you can avoid the tragic and negative stories blasted on the front page.
  • Turn off all the TVs and video games in the house and leave them off – hide the remotes if you have to.
  • Turn off notifications on your smart phone so don’t feel the temptation to look at social media or texts as they arrive.
  • Hide visual reminders of the chores and responsibilities you are putting on hold by going on vacation.
  • Close all web browsers on your computer except for those required to check-in for your flights or depart on time.
  • Have your dinner delivered to avoid cooking and cleaning up and focus on the pleasures of eating at home.
  • Put your smart phone into silent or airplane mode after you are done with any final vacation checklist tasks.

These ways to disconnect apply not just to you but also your family members who are coming on vacation with you. Ask them to join you in this vacation mindfulness exercise as you’ll need their help and support.

Mindful Vacation Tip 3 - Release Work Stress

3. Release Stress Knowing Your Work Will Get Done

Your work will get done without you. Your work will get done without you. Keep repeating that message to yourself because the reasons so many people cite for not taking all of their vacation days is the non-stop workload.

Stop believing that you are the only person at work who can do your job and handle your unique responsibilities. Your employer is relying on you, but they are also relying on you to take sufficient time off to de-stress, reenergize, and return refreshed. The productivity and creativity improvements (not to mention getting a promotion) from taking a regular vacation are well-proven, so don’t fret! As is evident in the checklist from step 1, there are many simple ways to put your work on hold for vacation including setting up your out-of-office vacation email (as suggested by The Productivityist).

Make it your job to train others to handle your work load while you are away for a week or two. You aren’t the first person to take a vacation while work piles up, so find a colleague whose lead you can follow. Talk to that person in your office who tells awesome vacation stories while receiving the highest marks for success and achievement on the job.

Remember that your work will pile up when you are on the job and it will pile up when you are away on vacation. Your job now is to make the mindful decision to not worry about work while you are on vacation. When you trust your work team and are confident that when you delegate critical responsibilities they will get done, you’ll be successful at embracing the vacation mindset.

Vacation time is one of your most valuable benefits at work. This paid time off is earned, deserved, and beneficial to you, your family, and your job. Releasing stress is one of the many benefits of taking a vacation, but you can’t start doing that until are convinced that your work will get done. When you talk to your manager and your co-workers, put their mind at ease too since your company will be OK without you. They’ll be happy to see you go and happy when you return refreshed and ready to accomplish even more after a vacation away.

Mindful Vacation Tip 4 - Why Vacation?

4. Remind Yourself Why You Are Taking Time Off

When you are only days away from a vacation you may start experiencing anxiety. Do you sometimes feel that the timing for your vacation isn’t right and try to reschedule it? It’s only natural that the stress of getting everything done in time at work, at home, and for your vacation plan will rear its ugly head. This is your cue to use mindfulness techniques to slow down and evaluate without judgment what is going on around you. The reality is that the responsibilities of work and life are never done and that’s OK.

Remind yourself why you are going on vacation in the first place. You aren’t taking a vacation because you are being forced to. Embrace it and the decision that you have already made to go somewhere and do something. It’s your time to enjoy away from work and life by yourself, with a loved one, or with your family. Be mindful of what you must do but don’t have to do before leaving on vacation. You do not want those last-minute tasks to turn into a crazed state of consciousness.

I like to write things down because by documenting my thoughts, I gain deeper insights into how I’m feeling now along with my vacation aspirations . Try writing down the reasons why you are going on vacation and what you hope to get out of it. Recall that you have a checklist that will keep you honest about preparing for and departing on vacation. Ask your travel partners or family members how they are feeling and what they hope to accomplish on vacation.

Preparing for a mindful vacation is just the start. Mindfulness can enrich your travel experience (from Everyday Mindfulness) in many amazing ways too. Whatever the reason for fearing or worrying about taking time off from work and life, use mindfulness to calm you down while creating a positive sense of anticipation about your travels.

Mindful Vacation Tip 5 - Pack Mindfulness Self

5. Pack Your Mindful Self for Every Vacation

How can you leave your regular work-life self behind when you head off on vacation? You want to bring your new vacation mindset self on a trip, not that person who is overworked, stressed out by life, and feeling stuck in a rut. Leave that person behind and help your family do the same.

Don’t just hope that you’ll be able to switch instantly from work-life into vacation mode in an instant. Whether you try yoga, exercise, mindfulness, or simply find a quiet place to relax and think, the goal is to ease into the vacation mindset. You can practice the art of mindfulness and be in the present moment in just 10 minutes (thanks TED Talks!).

Which version of yourself are you going to take on vacation next time? Your overworked self that finds it hard to be happy on vacation or the version of you who has applied the lessons of vacation mindfulness? You want to be relaxed and happy on vacation – not stressed, worried, distracted, etc…. Use vacation mindfulness to reduce the negative emotions (the baggage) that comes with having a busy work and home life.

It’s your vacation time after all and you deserve it! Learn how to take your vacation-mindful self on every vacation.

Scott’s Vacation Mindset in a Nutshell

Scott's Vacation Mindfulness ChairWhat works for me is to sit in a quiet, comfortable place the day before a vacation to breath, imagine, and smile. While relaxing and pushing aside work and life I go through the overall vacation itinerary in my head. I let myself visualize what it may be like on a trip to a destination where I’ve never been before. Sometimes the fear of what may go wrong enters my mind, so I try to use positive thinking. Anticipation and excitement are much more powerful emotions than worry and fear. In most cases the “worst” that can go wrong is not so awful and I am prepared to handle those challenges should they arise.

After spending all those hours thinking about this vacation, planning a trip for myself and my wife, and imagining what it will be like, the day to depart finally arrives. My own style of mindfulness also includes flipping through a travel guidebook or navigating a tourist map to put myself into the scene. When I follow these steps and feel confident that everything is taken care of, I stop worrying and start focusing on how lucky I am to have this vacation opportunity. After about 10 or 15 minutes of practicing my vacation mindfulness technique, I have successfully transitioned into vacation mode.

You can do the same, so follow these lessons to ease you into the vacation mindset before each and every trip. Everybody is unique so what works for me might not be the same as what helps you borrow a bit from mindfulness when going on vacation. Below this article is where you are encouraged to share the ways in which you embrace the vacation mindset to achieve work-life-vacation balance.