But Michael Inglis, psychologist and co-director of The Mind Room, says that working at a frantic pace before a break can be counter-productive and make it take even longer for you to wind down.
He suggests thinking carefully about what actually needs to be completed before we head off and delegate or hold off on the rest.
“It might be two or three things in the final week and everything else you get done is a bonus,” he says.
“Most of us work in teams but many don’t use the team around us – the art of delegation is so significant for those weeks you are away.”
Psychology consultant Dr Jo Lukins suggests using your holiday lead-up to get clear on what you’d like your holiday to look like. If you’re one of the many Australians whose holiday plans have been cancelled or scaled back, think about what you’re personally hoping to get from the time off work. “Is it to sit and relax and do nothing, or is it a physical retreat to get back into shape, or is it a holiday of indulgences?” she asks.
“If you give some thought to what you would like your break to look like, you can make sure you come out of it getting [what you want].”
Give yourself time to unwind
After the year many of us have had, our summer break can seem like a beacon of hope to de-frazzle and re-set.
But it’s worth keeping in mind that it might realistically take you a few days or longer to start to feel like you’ve officially clocked off. “You don’t flick a switch and go into holiday mode,” Inglis says.
“It’s going to take some time before you fully relax and get into that mode of non-work stimulation. Start doing small things that you enjoy and know that typically relax you.”
Dr Lukins says many people’s holidays follow something of a mental bell curve, and understanding that can help manage your expectations.
“We usually have a transition into [holiday mode] and a transition out of it. So if it was a 10-day break, you might spend two days winding down, six days in the middle and two days starting to think about returning to life as it was,” she says.
“Have a recognition from the start that relaxation is a skill of sorts and it can take some time.”
Enjoy what’s right in front of you
One of the best ways to ensure you really soak up your holiday time is to avoid incessant social media scrolling of everyone else’s seemingly perfect breaks.
“Be careful of not getting caught up in comparison – everyone’s holiday always looks amazing on social media, you see the highlight reel,” Dr Lukins says.
“If you saw the photos of a family road trip I took around Hawaii in a Kombi van, it looks fantastic. Those photos don’t show the time it was raining and dripping and the terrible Chinese food we ate.”
Laugh at the holiday blunders
If your holiday doesn’t live up to your hopes, Dr Lukins says there will still be silver linings to reflect on.
“It might end up a great story – from every experience there is something we can learn about ourselves,” she says. “Maybe there was a beautiful sunrise or maybe there was a nice cool afternoon and you had a sleep and it was indulgent and lovely. If it wasn’t the holiday you wanted it to be, what have you learnt from it so you can do it differently next time?”
Allow yourself a break
If you’re facing financial hardship or simply want to bank your annual leave until both domestic and international borders re-open, it might be tempting to forego this summer break and keep working, but Inglis says taking breaks is crucial for energy management and psychological health.
“Yes you may be able to physically operate but psychologically you might be struggling and may not be very efficient any more because you are so fatigued,” he says.
“A break is imperative for us to refresh. We all need rest and rehabilitation and recovery to be more efficient and if you think you can keep on driving through, it will catch up with you eventually with symptoms that are physical or psychological.”
Get a little more outta life
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