I’ve just got back from my vacation to Queensland. This photo is from the dining room of my friend’s house … I think you’d agree, it’s a stunning view.

Qld photo 600w

It wasn’t long ago that I went on a working holiday, visiting a friend on the outskirts of Sydney (remember the photo of the cows in the paddock near the back door?)

Well, this time round, I had a true vacation. It was great to have the heart-space and head-space to stop doing and — you know a cliche is coming — to simply be.

The house where I stayed is pretty amazing. As well as these magnificent views, the house has a pool. Not just any kind of pool. But a salt-water-solar-heated-indoor-pool-that-is-attached-to-the-house.

I couldn’t believe that I could get my beach towel at one end of the house, walk through the lounge and down the hall, and open the door … and there was the indoor pool, inviting me in.

No sunshine, no sunscreen, no sand or even concrete to worry about. For someone who swims at the beach at twilight during summer because the sun is too intense during the day, this was kinda like heaven …

So apart from swimming, I just lounged around and hung out with my friend. Recharged my introvert batteries and nourished my extroverted side. The time went quickly — although not so quickly that I couldn’t have luxuriously long naps every day.  The end of the week came and I was headed back to Sydney.

I’ve learned the hard way that I need time to transition between holidays and work mode.

I used to do vacations like this: I’d book the maximum amount of time away, arriving home the night before I was due back at work. In the morning, I’d wake up, struggling to find food in the house or clean clothes to wear. My brain would still be on holiday mode, and so thinking was slow, really slow. My calendar wouldn’t make sense to me, and I’d be staring at it, wondering what I needed to do. I’d feel overwhelmed with all the emails sitting in my inbox. And I’d notice myself zoning out, daydreaming about my holiday.

And as a result, I’d end up feeling resentful at myself for being unproductive. Or I’d start to blame the vacation “If only I didn’t spend so much time away I wouldn’t feel so stressed”. Not a very gracious way to operate. It also tarnished my memories of the holiday.

Fast forward a few years and I’ve learned to schedule in a full day for recovery. Yes, a full day. In our time-pressed world, that feels like a luxury. Rather than see it as a ‘sacrifice’ of my work time, I’ve decided to see it as an extension of my vacation (a one-day staycation, if you like).

So this time round, I arrived back on Sunday night, and so Monday was a day where I allowed myself to sleep, to potter around and unpack my suitcase, to cook some good meals. I logged onto my computer but avoided anything that felt like *work*. Just poked around. It was a day guided by gentleness, not stress.

Unlike previous post-vacation return-to-work-days, I don’t feel resentful this time round. The day-of-transition has given me breathing space between my holiday and my work, so they’re not crammed up next to each other.

What about you?

What’s your post-vacation pattern like? Are you typically a crammer, or do you give yourself some breathing space to transition?