Advice matters
Minimising work stress before, during and after a vacation

It may sound counter-intuitive, but relaxation can be hard work. If you’re used to a busy workload, you’re probably looking forward to winding down and some rest. But you might also find it difficult to adjust to the excess free time.

To help you ease into the ‘holiday mood’, here are some expert tips on how to leave behind your work stress and enjoy some well-deserved time off, according to experts*.


What you do before leaving the office can set the scene for the whole holiday. Here are some steps you can take in the days leading up to the break:

  • Tackle your priorities first: Review your to-do list and identify the tasks that you need to complete before you leave, those that you can delegate, and those that can be rescheduled. The goal is to clean your plate, not add more. Just make sure you don’t take on too much, or you’ll burn out and it will take even longer to recover.
  • Do a ‘brain dump’: Take note of everything you need to do when you come back from your vacation. This way you can forget about it, knowing that your to-do list is already covered.
  • Write your out-of-office message: You can use the holiday auto-responder to set boundaries around work emails (giving you one less reason to check your inbox).
  • Declutter your desk: A disorganised space can contribute to stress. By straightening up your desk, you’ll have a neater environment to come back to.
  • Block out your first back-to-work day: If you can, it can be a good idea to block out your calendar on the first day back, so you can fully focus on catching up on your to-do list.


According to research, working on weekends and holidays can reduce intrinsic motivation, leading to lower work quality of work and lower employee satisfaction rates. So, how can you make sure that work doesn’t take over your personal time? Here are some key things you can do:

  • Be deliberate about switching off: It may help to set a clear intention to rest, relax and recharge, especially if you’re a naturally goal-oriented person.
  • Unplug from your devices: This is an important one, if you find it challenging not to check your work emails while on vacation. More in general, research shows that not only a ‘digital detox’ frees up time, but it can have multiple mental health benefits. Just like any other plan, it’s a good idea to start by setting measurable goals (for example, a maximum amount of screen time per day).
  • Immerse in nature: Does your job entail long hours of sitting in an office? Or maybe, you just need to stretch your legs? Immersing in nature is a proven stress reducer and a good way to reset.

It can be easier said than done for many, but these three simple steps (with the right motivation) are often all it gets to take the time away from modern work life. Once you step back, you may also gain a new perspective on the more efficient way to get something done.


So, you’ve enjoyed your time away, and now is time to return to work. How can you avoid the back-to-work stress? These tips might help:

  • Create a task list: Come back and take action on any notes you’ve left for yourself before leaving (the ‘brain dump’), and add any extra tasks that have come up in the meantime. This will help you feel on top of things, so you can prioritise your time and effort as you re-adjust to your routine.
  • Give yourself time to readjust: Making the transition from ‘holiday mode’ to ‘work mode’ can be challenging, so don’t expect it to happen overnight. If you can, use the first week to ease back into things.
  • Check in with yourself: Take a moment to ask yourself how you feel. Did you fulfil the intention you set for your vacation? Remembering the positive experiences of your holidays will remind you that your batteries are recharged, and that you’re starting 2023 with a full tank.

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Making the most of your vacation days means trying to maximise the time you can spend doing the things you enjoy. We hope these tips help you the R&R you deserve.

While we’re not experts in relaxation techniques, but our SHARE advisers know a thing or two about financial wellbeing. If you have any questions about your insurance, mortgage, KiwiSaver or investments, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re here to help.

Sources: Harvard Business Review | | | |

Disclaimer: Please note that the content provided in this article is intended as an overview and as general information only. While care is taken to ensure accuracy and reliability, the information provided is subject to continuous change and may not reflect current developments or address your situation. Before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article, please use your discretion and seek independent guidance.