Updated: Apr 7
Hands up, who's counting down the days until their summer holiday? If you're anything like me you've been looking forward to it all year! And yet, increasingly we’re not using our holidays to properly switch off from work and day-to-day stresses, leaving us returning to the office feeling as though we haven’t really been away.
As many of us 60% say that a holiday doesn't relieve work-related stress as we keep in touch with our office and work colleagues throughout our break. In fact, 38% of us admit we can't last one day on holiday without giving in to the urge to check our emails. Just ten years ago, before the advent of smartphones, this overwhelming pressure to remain contactable was the preserve of hard-core workaholics. But now we're all feeling it, and burnout and work-related stress levels are soaring as a result.
So, how do you ensure you do switch-off on holiday so that your much-anticipated annual break does its job of sending you home relaxed and restored?
Here are five tips I've developed on the way through my personal digital detox journey to find a better screen:life balance:
1) Ensure your office knows you're logging off
I used to be well known for never switching off on holiday and carrying on working 24:7, from a sunnier location. I sent very mixed messages, asking to be left alone but responding to messages nevertheless. And because all my team knew that I would answer emails they couldn’t resist sending them. People are only human, if you leave the office saying you might be able to pick up a couple of emails here and there, they'll just keep coming. Instead tell colleagues you’ve booked somewhere without Wi-Fi and phone signal and you will be 100% off-grid (even if it's not strictly true). If you normally reply when you’re on holiday, you’ve given your colleagues the impression they can still reach you. And trust me, they will email! Don’t give them an excuse.
2) Remove email from your phone
If you think you just won't be able to resist the temptation to check your email then remove it from your phone all together. This will make it much more difficult and time-consuming to access your messages, meaning you’re much less likely to bother. Set your out-of-office reply to reinforce the message by asking anyone who emails you during this period to email you again when your holiday is over if it's really urgent. I've been doing this for a few years now and you'd be surprised how few people resend their message when they have to think about its urgency.
3) Set 'curfew' times for social media
One of the things that can really interfere with us enjoying our summer holiday is the compulsion to be recording and sharing it all constantly on social media. And mindless screen scrolling through other people’s social media posts (and the envy and negative feelings they can induce) doesn't help us switch off either. Set some curfews for times when you won’t be looking at social media. I suggest that you leave your phone alone until after breakfast, and then again from after the time you start eating your evening meal.
4) Go out without your phone
To really appreciate the benefits of logging off you need to try and go without your phone completely for regular periods of time. Your summer holiday is the perfect time to try this out. Start by making small excursions and leaving your phone behind in your hotel room or accommodation. If a day-trip seems too long then how about leaving it behind when you go out for a meal? Or when you take a short shopping trip? You'll find you're much more mindful of your surroundings when you’re not distracted by a screen, and you can really drink in all the sights and sounds that you’ve gone all that way to see.
5) Designate phone-free places
As well as setting curfews around times how about setting some places where you won’t use your phone on holiday? Poolside is one of my personal no-phone zones. Water, sunscreen and screens really aren't a good combination! Do yourself a favour and leave your phone behind when you're sunning yourself (or firmly in your bag). Bathrooms and bedrooms are another of my top phone-free places. Banning it from the bedroom might be tricky in a hotel room but you can try and plug it in as far away from the bed as possible. And don't take it into the loo.
I hope one or two of these tips may be just the one you need to ensure you really make the most out of your holiday. You really do need to unplug to recharge.