How can I maximize the burnout-relief of my one-week vacation?
April 10, 2010 1:38 PM   Subscribe

I've heard that you don't really enter into "relaxation mode" until a week of vacation has elapsed. And that the second week is when you really start to replenish your reserves. I've seen this myself; I went to Burning Man for a week, and it felt like returning to work was harder than it would have been if I had never left. I have a week-long vacation coming up and I feel extreeemely burned-out. What can I do to make sure that I get the maximum benefits during this week off?
posted by marclar to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
One of the worst ways is to obsess about whether you're getting the most out of your vacation.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 1:41 PM on April 10, 2010 [3 favorites]

Catch up on sleep before your vacation.
posted by neuron at 1:45 PM on April 10, 2010

Completely detach from the Internet and TV. My most refreshing vacation was when I had something like 8-9 days off and used 5 of them to go backpacking (that's 5 full days and something like a half day on either end getting to/from the trailhead). It was an immersion into a completely different world, and time slowed way down.
posted by salvia at 1:52 PM on April 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

This thread addresses basically the same question, so you'll probably want to check out the strategies there.
posted by BlooPen at 1:53 PM on April 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

2nding catching up on your sleep. Also, start out the vacation with a massage or some kind of spa treatment to rid yourself of tension.
posted by greta simone at 1:55 PM on April 10, 2010

this post has some good answers.
posted by gursky at 1:55 PM on April 10, 2010

whoops! took me too long to find it. BlooPen beat me to it.
posted by gursky at 1:56 PM on April 10, 2010

I feel like the most obvious answer to your particular situation is that it's hard to classify a seven-day stay at Burning Man as a relaxing vacation. It's damn hot all the time, alkaline sand is everywhere and gets in everything, it's easy to get dehydrated, the amenities are very basic, etc. It's fun as all get-out, yes, but it's really hard on your body as well. So I wouldn't generalize from that one experience.
posted by Pontius Pilate at 2:16 PM on April 10, 2010 [4 favorites]

Buy a quarter ounce of ganja, and spend the week stoned.
posted by Netzapper at 3:36 PM on April 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

Wind down or hand off your major work responsibilities before vacation, let people know you will be out of the office and out of touch, and then let completely go of your work responsibilities during vacation. Do not think about work until you are back on the job.

Also, don't try to do a lot more the day before your vacation. That day should be normal or slack.
posted by zippy at 3:53 PM on April 10, 2010

Do you feel more recharged when you are around people, or do you need to be away from people in order to recharge? Figure out which one applies to you, and then try to arrange your week so you are socializing in the way that makes you feel most recharged.

Example: I enjoy being with people, but I need time in between socializing to recharge. I recently went to visit my family for a week and found that the way I had arranged my visit, it was very, very difficult for me to have any time alone. I came back to work (where I deal with quite high-needs people) utterly exhausted.

So, figure out what type of socializing will make you feel most refreshed (needing to be around lots of people, or having lots of time alone, or a balance of both) and make sure to do that during your vacation.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:54 PM on April 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

I agree with netzapper. Also, I know it would be tough, but don't drink/over-drink. You will feel worse during your vacation, and you would get back to work and feel worse.
posted by TheBones at 3:57 PM on April 10, 2010

Often, travel is more stressful and exhausting than working. You might be better off with a staycation (staying home and relaxing) than taking a trip somewhere.

Maybe pay someone else to come in and clean your house for you before your vacation starts so you don't feel compelled to spend time on chores.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:35 PM on April 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

When you get back, take a day off before returning to work.
posted by box at 4:42 PM on April 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

Have you heard the expression 'I'm already there?' Visualizing one or two of your planned activities can be a way of getting into vacation mode before you get there. And not in a detailed, 'how will I do this' way but more like 'it's going to be great when I get there and do this.'

More often than not I find I can get right into vacation mode if I'm looking forward to it. The times when I haven't have been times of high stress just before leaving. So try to arrange things so that the day you leave you have as few decisions to make as possible.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 4:46 PM on April 10, 2010

Nthing detaching from all e-mail, cell phones and electronic devices. Spend time being quiet in nature, whether hiking, sitting in a safe park or even in a car near a body of water. Nature is calming. Don't do anything you really don't want to do even it is supposed to be cool. Let yourself be who you really are without worrying about anyone else.
One thing I personally find refreshing, as a Christian, is quietly drawing near to God and just being still in His loving Presence.
posted by srbrunson at 5:27 PM on April 10, 2010

the first two days do nothing. really. absolutely fucking not a goddamn thing. sleep till 4 if you must. every time you have that slight thought of "i should..." ----- cancel it, and do nothing. do not try to "get the most" of your time. just do nothing. all your energy should be spent on finding food when hungry or selecting movies or tv shows or music or podcasts or books to lie around with and passively absorb. do not party. simply rest. after that, you should be golden for more energetic holiday time thingies.
posted by molecicco at 6:13 PM on April 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

Make sure you're not trying to cram too much into your vacation - like those people who insist on going through museums and cities for 14 hours straight until they drop half-dead in a hotel somewhere. Get a lot of sleep beforehand. Start the vacation slowly, and don't set up a schedule that is going to leave you constantly stressed trying to get from point A to point B.

Having fun can be a kind of work, and you need to make sure you're giving yourself opportunities to recharge - whether by sitting for a few hours in a cafe, going for a hike, a swim or even just sitting on the couch in your B&B, reading and eating cookies and drinking hot chocolate for two days.
posted by canine epigram at 8:46 PM on April 10, 2010

I used to work at a resort, with no internet or cell phones. It usually took 3 days before people before the average person would start to feel caught up on sleep and ready to start doing things again.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 12:21 AM on April 11, 2010

Wipe yourself out physically on the first day, maybe even the first evening after the last day of work. Don't disable yourself, mind you, or you'll spend all vacation limping and yelping, but if you aren't sweating, you aren't doing it right. Get really physically drained from being active all day or night doing something you enjoy. You'll sleep like a baby (weep inconsolably, scream for your mother, soil yourself) and wake up feeling like life is different.

Ideally, you would burn all this energy by traveling and then wake up in a new place, perhaps after having hiked or ridden your bicycle many miles to get there. You don't have to go around the world, just somewhere out of your normal loop. If you take the bus or train with your bike and then do the hiking or biking from where the bus or train drops you, you'll put even more miles between you and normal life.
posted by pracowity at 2:28 AM on April 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Burning Man is not a relaxing vacation. If you want to relax, hit a beach or something, have a "do nothing" trip rather than a "run around and see all the sights" trip.

I dunno about the two weeks thing, I just found it too hard to get back into "the real world" after two weeks (way too much catchup), so that's actually less relaxing to me.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:22 AM on April 11, 2010

Change of scenery, as much as you can. This is the key -- if you've got a week to yourself, try to go to different locations throughout the day. I don't mean travel, either: Go for a hike or something in the morning, then go visit a friend in the afternoon, then casually go wander around somewhere. By this time you should be ready to head home, and you'll feel productively relaxed -- I found that a variety in surroundings helps make the day feel longer and more satisfyingly relaxing.

And actually, how you relax really depends on who you are. For example, I'm the kind of person who couldn't do "nothing" all day (unless, I guess, I'm hungover or otherwise sick) -- I'd rather just spend my time doing something I enjoy. To me, a relaxing day involves doing things like playing guitar or doing some fun programming project, if I'm stuck indoors. Outdoors would be a long bike ride, hike, etc.
posted by spiderskull at 4:58 PM on April 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Don't return from vacation right before you have to go back to work. Give yourself a day or two in between.
posted by spinto at 9:46 AM on April 12, 2010

Thanks, everyone; vacation was good :) I think that disconnecting from the computer really helped.
posted by marclar at 8:52 AM on May 12, 2010

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