Anecdotal evidence suggests Irish people are finding it increasingly difficult to switch off while away, with work and other worries often preventing them from taking full advantage of their well-earned breaks.
“The pressure on employees is a lot heavier these days and a lot more is expected of them; as a result when they do go on holidays, they find it very hard to switch off,” says life and business coach, Ann Lohan. “People are so programmed into their daily routine that it can be very hard to get out of that. When they finally do, it’s suddenly time to return home again. That’s why you often hear people saying: ‘I could have done with another week’.”
So what can be done to ensure you truly leave the office behind? “Introduce a little ritual that reminds you you’re on a break,” she advises. “So, for example, if you always have a really quick shower in the mornings, have a lovely long bath; likewise with breakfast, indulge yourself rather than just grabbing something quick. Try to switch off that programme in your head that makes you think you’re still on work mode.”
If you have a problem lying in when you’re off work, Lohan recommends dabbing a little bit of lavender on your pillow at night. “It will help you fall asleep; likewise in the morning the relaxing smell will remind you you’re on holidays and hopefully encourage your brain to go back to sleep.”
In order to avoid a manic week in the run-up to your holidays, Lohan advises planning what you need to do three to four weeks prior to leaving. “This is not always possible, of course, but try, as much as possible, to sort out your workload in advance so that the last week is just about closing things off. Try and delegate any last-minute issues to a colleague on the understanding that you will return the favour when they are going on leave.”
Some employees, particularly those with a lot of responsibility, find the prospect of being out of contact with the office terrifying.
“If you do have to be contactable, there needs to be a firm understanding in place. For example, explain you will only check your phone once a day — in the morning — and that you will respond then, but at no other time. You must also make it absolutely clear that you should only be contacted in a real emergency, and define precisely what that is.”
Lohan also warns against taking business staples such as BlackBerrys and laptops with you to avoid any temptation to get stuck in while away.