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How to let work-stress go during your holiday

How do you return after your holiday? Totally recharged or still with a dissatisfied feeling of guilt that you didn’t do enough? How to turn work-stress into relaxation during your holiday.

There I was, sunbathing in the Aruban sun, under a palm tree next to a pool. If you walked by you would think I was relaxing, reading a book. But I felt stressed. I had a week off to visit a friend in Aruba. Right after that, I had to provide a training. So I took a book about the training content with me. I felt pressure to read it. So far I delivered good training on the subject. But my only focus was: this performance needs to be better. Otherwise I already imagined the dissatisfied participants in the course. And that was my biggest fear.

I actually did that often. Taking a list with to-do’s and books to read during my holidays. Nothing wrong with reading that book you like when you finally have time, for sure. But my approach wasn’t relaxed. Because it was never enough. I did a lot of fun things during my holiday, of course. But deep down I never had that totally zen and recharged feeling. If the book wasn’t finished? Then I blamed myself for not reading it. So still tired and with a feeling of guilt I started working again.

I didn’t want to feel stressed while laying on a towel next to an Aruban pool. I just wanted to dive in and chill out. But I felt like I didn’t have a choice. Otherwise the training would be a complete disaster. It felt like a trap that I couldn't get out of. The question I didn’t ask myself was, is it really a priority reading that book now? Or can without reading it, the training actually go well? Or maybe one chapter is enough, instead of the whole book?

Now, my holidays look different. I learned how I can let go of the pressure I am putting on myself. I don’t have to be scared of a disaster. Accepting that means that I can step out of the trap I felt. I know that I receive the same evaluations when I don’t read that extra book. I celebrate the moments that I act differently. Enjoying the moment, not striving for the perfect quality. Choosing to read when I want it, not because I need to. It’s new behaviour, it also comes with a new feeling of discomfort. With a voice that says: ‘’It’s not allowed to relax! Make yourself useful!’’ But that voice is a good sign. It means you are doing something different than before. Be kind to yourself and embrace that feeling. From there, you feel the choice to celebrate your holiday with relaxation instead of stress.

What about you, how do you experience your holiday?

  • I am in that hammock, totally relaxed, drinking my mojito.

  • Hmmm, if I am honest, it is a pile of books and list of to do's for me.

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