How To Take Your Mind on Vacation When Your Body is Stuck at Work

published Jan 8, 2018
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If you found yourself staring down the barrel at a bunch of unused vacation days at the end of last year, you’re not alone. According to a survey by Glassdoor, most employees in the U.S. only take 54% of their allotted paid time off. Not taking enough vacation can cause stress, burnout and general grumpiness—but it is much easier to talk about how you should take time off then actually planning and scheduling a vacation. Fast Company recently put together a few tips to help you reap the benefits of a vacation when you happen to be stuck in the office.

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They suggest cultivating a “vacation mindset” where your mind is at ease, freeing you up to deeply engage and enjoy what you’re working on, even when you’re just in your cubicle. The first step is surprisingly simple: daydream. Letting your mind wander makes you more susceptible to creative ideas and “wouldn’t it be nice if” thinking. Their suggested tips to put your brain in chill mode:

  1. Start with one thought at the center. Represent it with a single word, phrase, or symbol.
  2. Add more subsidiary thoughts around the main idea. Connect related thoughts by lines.
  3. Continue to group and organize related ideas and concepts.
  4. There are digital tools you can use to create a mind map, or your can create your own (bonus points, since studies show that doodling inspires focus and creativity).

Adding more play into your day to day is a key part of the vacation mindset. That can come in the form of games coworkers or finding small moments of playfulness throughout your day. For a long term approach to mental balance at work, start with the Ideal Day exercise. It will help you identify your values, goals and the work that most stimulates your mind.

What do you do to prevent work burnout?

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