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3 Steps To Truly Unwind On Vacation

Vacation starts now... right after you answer that one quick email. But before you know it, you've spent the whole morning in your hotel room. Sound familiar?
07/16/2015 08:33am ET | Updated July 16, 2016
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How to power down, reboot -- and make sure work doesn't get in the way.

By Madeline Buxton, SELF

Vacation starts now... right after you answer that one quick email. But before you know it, you've spent the whole morning in your hotel room.

Sound familiar? Sixty-one percent of employees admit to working while on vacation, according to a survey from jobs and career site Glassdoor. (Most say they're motivated by dedication or fear of falling behind.) But never unplugging can lead to job burnout. "If we expend energy, we need to renew it," explains Dana Bilsky Asher, PhD, a senior vice president at The Energy Project, a workplace consultancy.

Follow this simple three-step game plan on your next trip so your time off actually leaves you refreshed.

1. Set Some Limits
If you know that checking email at least once a day will ease your mind, choose a short window when you'll scan and respond to any pressing messages. Tell your supervisor or one coworker about the time slot so they know when they can best reach you, says Michael Leiter, PhD, a psychology professor at Acadia University who studies burnout.

2. Shift Your Focus
It can be hard to switch from a packed schedule to totally open days. "If you're achievement-oriented, build a challenge into your vacation so you engage your mind in a novel way," says Steven Berglas, PhD, author of Reclaiming the Fire: How Successful People Overcome Burnout. Taking tennis lessons or a cooking class can keep you busy with the satisfaction of reaching a goal.

3. Prepare for Reentry
Rolling into work after a red-eye can leave you tired and anxious. Instead, plan your return trip for a Saturday afternoon so you have a buffer to ease back into everyday life by Monday, Asher suggests. Similarly, block out catch-up time on your calendar for your first day back, so you don't get booked solid in meetings while you're away. "I don't even promise when I'll reply on my out-of-office message," Asher says. That way you haven't set unrealistic expectations and created deadline pressure for yourself.

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