• Tracey Duke

Stressed out? How to switch off on holiday

In the words of that great legend Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”


Fast forward 30 or so years, and things have far from slowed down.

Between work, school runs, deadlines, & meetings, you're lucky to get a moment to yourself, let alone think beyond next month.

As a culture & workforce, we’re running on a treadmill that only seems to be picking up pace and, to be fair, there are few signs of it slowing down.

So, what happens when you finally get the break you’ve been craving all year? How do you go from running at a million miles an hour, to slowing it down, putting things on hold, and unwinding for a week or so? How do you shut down the manic activity in your brain and switch off long enough to be totally present for yourself, your partner & family on your break?

1. Set yourself a goal while you’re away.

You’re a hard-working achiever. That’s a given. So switching off completely, isn’t necessarily going to come easily to you.

My tip; don’t fight it. It’s a battle you are not going to win straight away.

Instead, consider setting yourself a goal for your break that will energise you. Something that you can work towards & accomplish during your week.

I remember a ski trip to France a few years back. Deep down, I know I was reluctant to take time away work. The truth was, as exhausted as I felt, I loved the feeling I got from pushing myself. I still do.

When we got to the slopes, I set myself the goal of nailing a red run by the end of the week. An ambition that both terrified & excited me. Did I stay focused? Did I do it? Hell yes; it was all I could think about. In the process, I forgot about work, had fun with my family, increased my fitness, and slept better than I've ever done.

2. Choose activities that completely absorb you and pull your mind away from work.

I know you’ll have heard about the flow state before; it's a period when you’re so totally engrossed in an activity that you lose all track of time. If you love your work, you likely spend a lot of your time in this state.

Your break is an opportunity to do the same; to truly get present & absorb yourself in new activities, so that you can leave work & your daily routine behind for a while.

Be adventurous. Whether it's a ski trip or something else, challenge yourself with new experiences; you’ll soon find yourself forgetting all about the content of your inbox.

3. Turn off the notifications.


Don’t get me wrong, I know how easy it is to be drawn back into your world by the seductive ping of a notification. But, does it honestly matter that Jenny from marketing ‘had a fabulous networking lunch' last Tuesday?

I’m sure it was fabulous and yes, the Pig at Coombe is beautiful; but you don’t need to know that right now. Really. It can wait.

Remove the app. Ditch LinkedIn. Do whatever you need to do to step away. This is your time, & there’s no one else you need to be comparing yourself to.

4. Schedule time with friends and family

It’s pretty hard to think about work when you’re catching up with friends and family. Whether it’s a lunch, dinner, or a long afternoon walk, have fun with them. You’ll soon switch off.

5. Get clear on your no’s

I’m all for saying yes and expanding your world. But sometimes, you’ve got to say no. Book in too many events & get-togethers, and you’ll start to feel overwhelmed. Before you know it, your mind will start wandering back to work as a way to escape.

It’s all about balance. Sometimes your in-laws just have to wait.

6. Switch off from the news

This is your time to switch off. Seriously, you do not need another update on escalating energy prices, rising inflation, or the race to become Prime Minister.

If something important goes down and you need to know, someone will mention it to you.

7. Get an eye mask.

I love a bit of romantic moonlight as much as the next girl, but if you haven’t tried an eye mask yet, seriously, give it a go.

Just a fraction of light in your room at night can have a huge impact on the quality of your sleep.

Invest in a decent mask and you’ll be ready once again to rock your world.

8. Get back to nature

Find yourself a beautiful stretch of river or coast to swim. Go for walks in the forest. Walk everywhere. When you’re moving your body, & immersing yourself in nature, you’ll truly feel alive and begin to shift perspective.

Suddenly that huge project that’s been weighing heavy on you just might not seem so heavy by the end of your break.

9. Ditch the guilt

You are allowed to take time off.

You’re not just allowed; it is an absolute total necessity. A non-negotiable.


Burnout is a real thing that affects more than we can count. The sooner we can flip the script and realise that our mental health depends on having quality time off, the better.

10. Put your relationship with social media on hold. I’m mentioning this one again, because it’s that important.

You can do it. It’s time to step apart and take a break from each other.

Now I could quote you all kinds of stats about how social media is not the best th


ing for you. But you know this already.

As with the news, we do not need to know what our friends and colleagues are pret


ending to be so happy about. Nor do we need to compare our entire lives to their 4-second snapshot.

Use this time to step away from social media. Create some breathing space and remember what it’s like to not know everyone else’s opinion


Tracey Duke is an ICF trained Coach, writer & podcast host focused on high performance. She offers individual coaching sessions and Deep Dive Coaching retreats from her home on the banks of the River Dart, in the heart of Devon.


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