Should I Stay or Should I Go

Four in ten workers return from their holiday feeling more stressed than when they left.

Well, that time of the year is here again... The summer holidays can be stressful. 

Holiday Stress

It is perhaps unsurprising that holidays can be a source of stress, with people fretting over missing their flights, the prospect of delays, and being fully covered if things don't go to plan.

As we approach the summer holidays, a new study by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM), has found that holidays are not nearly as relaxing as they should be. 

90% worried they will return to an overflow of emails.

It’s hart to disconnect

So, while the term “holiday stress” may seem like an oxymoron, in our always-connected electronic world, it’s becoming more and more difficult to totally disconnect and enjoy the moment. Dr Lori Kay, a therapist who also offers alternative therapies such as reiki and neurolinguistic programming, emphasises the importance of turning off the technology while on holiday.

This seems especially relevant since a study of 2,500 managers found that one third of them keeps on working while away on holiday to try to stay ahead of their heavy workloads. A possible side effect of modern technology, meaning workers are contactable anytime and anywhere.

Meanwhile, only 28% of those surveyed reported that they had had arguments with friends and family about their working on holiday. 


Neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis, chairman of research consultancy Mindlab, international, said: "Holiday stresses often stem from unrealistic expectations of a completely care-free vacation.”

"The fact is that worries don't disappear just because you are in the sun; in fact when the mind doesn't have the usual day-to-day challenges and demands to cope with, it typically finds other things and worries to occupy it.”

And if in the meantime we are still checking our work e-mail, you’re done.

Therefore, here are 9 tips for cutting down holiday stress levels.

Tips & Tricks

1. Have a wind-up day. Leave your last day of work free for the “oops, I forgot” things. Don’t use the last day to madly try to finish a project or you’ll increase your stress level.

2. Inform your contacts. Make sure that you inform key contacts you will be away – this will cut down on the number of messages sent in your absence

3. It's all abut timing. Try to plan your holiday timing wisely, so that you're not away during critical stages of a project.

4. Set rules. If you are planning to check work emails, establish ground rules and only do so once or twice a day and switch off your work devices in between

5. Automate. Set up a detailed out-of-office reply for both your email and phone line. Including dates you'll be away and a person that can be contacted in your absence

6. Be active. Taking up activities, learning a few phrases in the local language and exploring the culture are just a few ways to keep your mind busy, helping you unwind and disconnect more quickly.

7. Returning home. Come home a day or two early. Return on a Friday or Saturday if you’re back to work on Monday morning. Allow yourself a day to unpack and readjust to your everyday life. Don’t set yourself up to be stressed when you get back.

8. Catch-up day. Make your first day a catch-up day. Plan to catch up on email and return phone messages your first day back. Allow yourself time to get back into the swing of things.

9. Catch-up meetings. Do not open your email account straight away upon your return - catch-up meetings with team members might be a better alternative

Happy holidays!