We’re all guilty of it – only being half present when we’re with our families over the holidays. Maybe you’ve found yourself sneaking off to a quiet room to answer a few work emails or taking multiple work-related calls.
If so, you’re not alone. Americans have a hard time disconnecting once on holiday vacation, and even find it hard to take the vacation days in the first place. U.S. workers left a record number of vacation days on the table last year – 768 million days, up 9 percent from 2017 – according to research from the U.S. Travel Association, Oxford Economics, and Ipsos. The research showed the two top barriers to vacation being the cost and inability to disconnect from work.
It is possible, though, to disconnect from work and reconnect with your family during the holidays. Here are four tips to help:
1. Remind yourself that your family deserves your undivided attention.
If you ask parents what their motivation for being a successful human is, nine times out of 10 their response will center around making their family members happy. The thing is, your family members need you to be happy and fulfilled in order for them to feel happy and fulfilled. If you’re draining yourself to bring in extra income or get that promotion, you’re most likely increasing your time focused on work and reducing your one-on-one time enjoying experiences with them. What good is all the money, power, or status in the world if it comes at the cost of time with your loved ones? The only thing your family needs, and has ever wanted, is your love, acknowledgment and attention – and there’s no better time than the holidays to shower them with it.
2. Remind yourself that taking time off makes you more productive.
A 2018 study from The State of American Vacation found that 88 percent of employees who spent more of their vacation time traveling – versus staying home or having a “workation” – reported feeling more, happy, productive and successful and had an increased likelihood of receiving a raise or promotion.
Employees who used little to none of their vacation time were five percentage points less likely to report a raise or bonus in the last three years. Research shows that after a vacation, 64 percent of people reported feeling “refreshed and excited to get back to my job.” It’s mutually beneficial for employees and organizations, given that unused vacation costs U.S. businesses $224 billion per year. Take the time off. Your boss wants you to.
3. Remind yourself that your brain is a muscle and needs recovery time just like the rest of your body does.
Various studies show that your brain can only handle so much work and so many task-based projects in a given time period. It’s in the relaxed state that inspiration and creativity can flow, leading you to be a better problem solver and more focused when presented with a difficult task. Ensure that you are getting enough brain rest by disconnecting from work during vacation. Put your “out of office” on but leave an hour or two open every day so that if fire drills pop up, you have a specific time earmarked to resolve work issues. Try to designate an hour or two first thing in the morning, so you can deal with any issues before the rest of the family wakes up. The remaining hours of the day should be spent being fully present with your family, not checking emails or answering work calls.
4. Remind yourself that leaders delegate.
Inviting participation and support from your team and colleagues shows you are confident and secure in your position. Research from Frontiers in Psychology finds that “many successful companies, including Google and Facebook, attract talent with a more relaxed management culture in which authority is delegated and subordinates are more involved in decision making.”
Employees feel that they have more freedom to work autonomously and experience a range of positive outcomes such as higher job satisfaction, organizational commitment, innovative behavior and task performance, when power and authority are delegated. The research also showed that delegation motivates employees to develop their skills and expertise.
Now that we are convinced that we should disconnect from work so that we can reconnect with our families during the holidays, here are a few suggestions to help facilitate your new perspective:
Spend one-on-one time with your kids. Pick one child to take with you to grab your morning coffee. Take the other child with you on a walk. It doesn’t need to be fancy or elaborate, it just needs to be one-on-one attention.
Plan a date night with your partner or spouse. It’s far too easy to focus on our extended family and children during the holidays and neglect our main support system – our partners and spouses. A single date night can do wonders to help you reconnect and fill your love reserves.
Let go of all expectations. There is no better time than the holidays to practice going with the flow. When all expectations of how it should be are surrendered, you can relax into the joyful, messy chaos of the season – which will no doubt trigger tidal waves of gratitude for everything and everyone you have in your life.
Elizabeth Pearson is a professional life coach, spiritual seeker, writer, wife and mother who specializes in getting women “unstuck” so that they can achieve their highest goals in all aspects of life. Learn more at www.elizabethpearson.com.