Photo by Tom Grimbert

Your summer holiday is just around the corner. You look so much forward to it but at the same time, you may also dread it. Why? Probably because it’s hard to make a smooth transition from work mode to vacation mode and vice versa.

Actually, vacations can cause a lot of stress. Not only is it hard to stress down, when you leave for Greece to go on that amazing sail trip you have been looking forward to all winter, it is also hard to get back to the overwhelming workload afterwards without stressing out right away. In today’s post, we come up with three steps for how you can make such transitions run a bit smoother.

A Smooth Transition Requires a Flexible Nervous System

Transitions can be hard on us. Not only when holiday arrives, also around weekends, the everyday transition from daytime to nighttime, etc. Every time we shift to another gear, it requires for our nervous system to be flexible. And if it isn’t already we need a little help. We can’t just expect a smooth transition to happen all by itself.

What we need is to maintain the flexibility in our nervous system on a continuous basis. Because, when we do so we are actually able to gear up and down in a more effortless way. Most of us aren’t aware of this, though, so we just allow for external forces to control us rather than taking on the steering wheel ourselves.

When away on vacation you feel safe and at peace, which makes holidays an ideal arena for bringing new competencies into play. So, how about using this summer holiday to incorporate some good habits for improving and maintaining the flexibility of your nervous system into your life?

Step 1:Make Peace with the Chaos You Leave Behind

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Friday is quickly approaching and this Saturday you will be on a plane to Greece. But you still have a ton of emails in your inbox. There are all these tasks you didn’t get to do because other more important stuff got in the way. And you are sure your colleagues won’t be able to make it without you, once you’re out the door.

Know the feeling? No matter how important the tasks seem and how indispensable you feel, try to make peace with the stuff you leave behind. Prioritise the absolute most important things and accept the fact that you are not able to do it all. At least for now. You are not a machine. You are a human being with a limited capacity and you only have 24 hours at your disposal a day.

Step 2: Nurture Your Parasympathetic Nervous System

Photo by Marvin Meyer

Saturday is here and your summer holiday has arrived! Now is the time to nurture what’s good for you. All of the stuff you don’t make time for on an everyday basis when you haven’t got the sufficient resources.

Read a book, go fishing, engage yourself in some slow cooking, have sex with your partner, practice resonance breathing, eat chocolate, have an ice cream, enjoy some mindful meditation, have fun. Make sure to prioritize all that’s sensuous, as such parasympathetic activities nurture your parasympathetic nervous system, which balances the autonomic nervous system and makes you more flexible.

But also don’t forget to be lazy. It is okay to simply just enjoy life without providing anything. You can’t go back to work and do your best if you haven’t also enjoyed life while being away. It is all about balance and you have to cultivate all the sensuous stuff that makes you great.

Step 3:Accept That Your Performance Is Lower When You Return to Work

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Days pass way too quickly when having fun and suddenly you find yourself boarding a plane back to reality. Work awaits tomorrow morning and you don’t really feel like going. Your body is feeling so incredibly great upon a long holiday and you fear going back to ‘performance mode’ because you know there is a risk you’ll be all stressed out already on your first day back at work.

So, what to do? Well, first of all, you need to lower your expectations and accept that your performance will be lower than it was when you left for your vacation. Bear with that fact and respect that you can not do the impossible. Be gentle with yourself and start out in a low gear. Make sure to take breaks whenever you need them and don’t forget to keep nurturing and maintaining your parasympathetic nervous system once work life has its tight fists around you. Amongst other things, Resonance breathingcan help you out here. And the best thing is: you only have to do it 10 minutes a day.

Ready? Set? Go!

So, there you have them: our three steps for how you can go on holiday and return to work without getting too stressed out about it. Why not give them a go this summer?

Also, we would love to hear how you go about it? What is your best advice for making a smooth transition from work mode to vacation mode and back?