It’s a fact universally accepted that however much you love your job, it’s always better being on holiday. Whether you’re happiest pounding the streets of a new city, having a jam-packed schedule of adventure sports, or prefer simply flying and flopping to the beach, making the most of your annual leave is crucial. However, as much as we often enjoy our breaks away from the office, we can often return to work feeling more exhausted than when we left.
New research from Radboud University Nijmegen published in the Journal of Happiness Studies recently found that there was a perfect amount of time to spend on holiday when it comes to the maximum beneficial effect on your health and wellbeing. Their study found that health and wellbeing peaked on day eight with it returning to baseline one week after returning.
Bearing this in mind, we asked three experts how to make the most of those precious holiday days, and guarantee you return to work both rested and rejuvenated.
Paul Joseph, Travel Expert & Co-Founder of Health & Fitness Travel
Make the most of your annual leave by planning holidays around bank holidays. For example, by taking 3 days off over Christmas (24th, 27th, 28th) you can take a 10 day holiday, or by taking 8 days off in Easter (15th-18th, 23rd-26th April) you can take a 17 day holiday. Also, book overnight long haul flights to save time and help beat dreaded jet lag.
Split your annual leave throughout the year
Spreading your holidays across several shorter breaks a year means you always have something to look forward to. From a wellness perspective it is also far nicer to take several shorter breaks for little doses of feel-good throughout the year.
Set boundaries with work colleagues
No matter how idyllic your intentions, switching off on holiday is nigh-on impossible if you have colleagues and clients calling and emailing 24/7. Switch your emails and mindset to out of office and tell people you won’t be contactable unless absolutely necessary for the duration of your trip.
Elisabetta Franzoso, Life and Wellness Coach
Try to digital detox
On a short holiday, if possible leave your mobile phone at home, or keep it on airplane mode. This proper break allows you to spend more time being mindful, engaging with those around you, and realising that technology doesn’t complete you. For long holidays, check your messages and emails once a day or once every other day. Try leaving your phone at your accommodation or turning it off to overcome to temptation of checking it constantly.
Have a day at home to recoup
Give yourself one day at home before going back to the office. Our body and mind needs to regain contact with reality, our surroundings and our normal routine. Returning to the office can be stressful and demanding, and therefore having a clear mind and a well rested body is necessary. Having 2-3 days in the middle (a weekend) can be also an excellent choice.
Beat the jet lag
Before a flight make sure you drink lots of water to stay hydrated and melatonin supplements to help regulate sleep. When you’re travelling, make the effort to eat healthy, eating refreshing foods which will give you energy such as nuts and fruits. It is an idea to book a full body massage the day before returning to work or before departing for a long flight to relax your body.
Caroline Sylger Jones, Founder of Queen of Retreats
Listen to your gut
Before booking think about what your mind and body really needs. A sociable holiday with early rises and lots of intense action isn’t any good if you are supremely exhausted and just need deep rest, whilst an active holiday might be just the ticket to energise yourself if you’ve been desk-ridden for far too long and need to burn through a whole load of angry energy.
Pack a calming travel candle to burn by your bedside or a gorgeous swimsuit you’ve had your eye on for months.
Take time to reflect
I’d also consider doing Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages (three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing each day). This is a kind of brain dump that you do on waking each day that clears the mind of clutter, helps you to tap into where you are in your life and get creative with the right way forward.