Vacation Withdrawals

Vacation Time

When I got home from Las Vegas, I caught up on work email through my iPhone. Although smartphones make things more convenient, work life balance gets blurred due to this constant connection to work. I felt my relaxed vacation mindset slowly fade away. Projects and daily work stress quickly took its place. I recall complaining to friends over the years how fast vacation mode disappears when we get back into the grind. This time around, I was determined not to let that happen.

During previous transitions from a vacation back to work, stress and anxiety levels increase. I succumb to negative feelings as I worry about all the work waiting for me. I remember all the difficult, unresolved tasks that I ran away from to get to my vacation destination. This time, I quickly applied the mindset that allowed me to have one of the most enjoyable, stress free vacations ever. I learned about this from a TED Radio Hour episode on happiness. Two themes they focused on were being present in the moment and being grateful. Not only can this mindset help you enjoy your vacation more, it can help you transition and deal with vacation withdrawals easier.

When I got back to work this morning, Chet my partner in crime, updated me on the past few days. He and my manager were slammed with work during my absence. I figured as much from reading the detailed emails on my phone. Initially I felt guilty for burdening my two teammates, but this is the way it is. When Chet or my manager was away, I was overwhelmed as well. The work barely handled by three people, naturally will be quite a chore for the remaining two. The good news is management is looking to add a forth member to our team. The upshot during these scenarios is the remaining two teammates better appreciate what the missing member brings to the table.

After catching up, I focused on taking action and the work. I did not dwell on negative feelings like guilt, anxiety, or yearn for the vacation that once was. There was a segment during the Simply Happy: TED Radio Hour that discussed people are the most unhappy when they let their mind wander. Since I was so focused, mind wandering was kept to a minimal. It was the happiest I felt returning to work in a long time. When I had a free moment, I was grateful that I had my job. I was still learning and expanding my skills. I was also still taking part in interesting projects and working with wonderful people, for the most part. Then in the afternoon, I ran into my highlight, or lowlight depending on how you look at it.

Two consultants came over to assist us with swamping out faulty hardware. This hardware caused several unplanned outages. One member of the duo was the heavy lifter as I saw him constantly working on his laptop. The second member, not so much. He was working on diagrams and documentation. After lunch, he decides it would be no problem to take a nap in his chair. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I thought, “How unprofessional!” I double checked with Chet, “Did you see that consultant sleeping in his chair?” He laughed and concurred. For a moment I thought about saying something. But I was busy catching up with my own work. I reasoned my way out of the awkward conversation. As long as the heavy lifter got the job done, that is the main goal. Since this was an emergency, these consultants were sent in to deal with their faulty equipment. If they were charging for normal services, then that would another story. I would not stand by and let my company’s hard earned dollars pay for a consultant’s after lunch nap.

I rounded out the day by catching up with other co-workers. I happily recalled my adventures in Las Vegas. I proudly said I did not gamble once and enjoyed other activities like dining, catching a show, and taking my son for his first swim in a pool. I tweaked my mind to reminisce about the pleasant memories rather than go into “Wish I was there instead of here” mode. It did wonders for me on my first day back to work. Vacation withdrawals? What vacation withdrawals? Looks like you really can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it.

For more information, visit Simply Happy: TED Radio Hour.

For more information, visit 10 Things You Should Not Do During Vacations From Work.

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