Post-vacation blues

February 1st, 2010  |  Published in General Thoughts

Whenever I return from vacation I am always astounded at the feeling of overwhelm that quickly replaces the sense of relaxation and wellbeing. Why is that?

Perhaps it’s the return flight with the hours spent waiting at airports as well as the delays and annoyances.  Or it may be the realization that the speed of life and work back home is far faster than that of beaches, mountains or boats.  More likely it’s the accumulation of mail, both snail and electronic, that awaits me and screams “take a look at me”, “deal with me” and “read me”. In just one week several hundred emails and a box full of letters bills, magazine and other junk are waiting.

How can one deal with all this and still maintain the good humor and even temper that resulted from catching up on sleep, sunshine and time spent with family or friends?

A former colleague in a position of leadership used to delete all the email that arrived while on vacation, assuming that if someone really needed to get in touch they would resend.  While I don’t recommend this approach, there is something very tempting about creating a clean slate on your first day back from vacation.

As I see it, the key is not to feel one must deal with all in one go.  It also helps to get the visual reminders that overwhelm you out of sight.  This can be accomplished by quickly sorting out those things such as bills or urgent messages from the rest – and dealing with them immediately.  Everything else can wait. Break the rest into meaningful chunks.  If you’re unlikely to read last week’s Time or Newsweek, put it into the recycling bin without even cracking it open.  It’s old news. Do the same with the junk mail. No need to pore over catalogs and credit card offers you know you don’t need.

Once you have brought the rest of the mail down to more manageable size, set a limited amount of time for the next five days to deal with the rest – say an hour or so to read and delete email or read and discard mail magazines.

Remember, the purpose of taking time off is to renew you in mind and spirit.  It would be a huge waste of good energy to let yourself feel overwhelmed immediately upon return.

And a hint:  Follow these same steps whenever you are feeling overwhelmed.  You choose how you react and what you do.  Don’t let stuff or circumstances manage you.

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