Post-Vacation Blues: How to Reenter Life and Work

No re-entry

Sunday and Monday this week were really difficult for me. For vacation this year, our family decided to drive to the beach in Florida – it was heavenly. The weather was perfect, we had incredible family time together, I read two books, exercised, slept, worked very little … you get the idea.

And then we came home! Do you know the feeling? No matter where you go for some time away from work, the transition back can be very difficult. Only 24 hours earlier I was standing on a white beach without a care in the world. Now, I am staring at a yard that needs mowing, a few hundred emails and an abrupt entry back into life and work with a packed schedule.

If I am honest, I was not a strong leader on Monday. I hurried from task to task, from meeting to meeting, and from person to person.  Then I ran out the door to get home, guilty about how little I actually accomplished. My work did not matter on Monday!

So what do we do with that? We try to learn and grow from it, is what we do. Here are 7 simple lessons that I want to share about re-entry into work after vacation:

  1. First, prepare ahead of time for the inevitable “transition day” needed at home and work. Unless your vacation was a flop (is that possible?), you will need it.
  2. Allocate some time at home to think through your week. Prepare for and focus on the things that are most important.
  3. Purposely schedule an on-ramp day at work. This may not be possible for you, but it looks like minimal/no meetings and maximum email response and team time!
  4. Instead of fixating on your awesome vacation location, push yourself to also be grateful for your home, family, friends, work … all blessings God has given you. (I really stunk on this one.)
  5. Unpack your bags, do your laundry and get some exercise. Don’t let those unpacked bags stare at you as a reminder.
  6. Realize that you cannot catch up in one day. It will be a process, so go easy on yourself.
  7. My biggest miss? To invite God deeply into my transition days. Go to church. Pray deeply for your return to work on Monday. And on Monday, pray through John 10:10 as you go through the day.

Before you leave for your next vacation, I hope you will consider these lessons learned, as well how to have a purpose-driven vacation!

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