5 Ways to Stay Stress-Free Before and After Your Vacation

5 Ways to Stay Stress-Free Before and After Your Vacation
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As we approach the Memorial Day holiday, it is time to start thinking about your vacation plans. And after two-plus years of a pandemic that’s contributed to worker burnout, mental health challenges, and historic resignation rates, some employers are ordering their employees to use their vacation time.


PwC, a personal services company with nearly 300,000 employees, is one of those companies. As the U.S. chair and senior partner of PwC put it in a recent press release, “Making sure all time off is protected, uninterrupted and that no vacation days go unused is also extremely important, so our leaders will be expected to support that happening.”


As MOAA career transition consultants, we encourage you to take full advantage of the personal and vacation days afforded to you. Not only will it help your mental and physical health, it will enhance your work performance and productivity following your time off.


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We also know that when you do return – relaxed and refreshed, and maybe even a little sunburned – it can be a soul-crushing experience to walk into a looming project deadline, an overflowing e-mail inbox, or a client crisis already in progress.


By prioritizing to following action items before and after your vacation, you can ensure a stress-free reentry to the world of work:

  1. Schedule time smartly. Plan an early return to unpack, do household chores such as laundry and grocery shopping, and get a good night sleep. Rushing back to the office from vacation could undermine the whole notion of taking time to rejuvenate and recover.

  2. Offer status updates. Before you depart, inform the major stakeholders, your boss, and work colleagues on the status of your current projects and programs. Knowing you are leaving them in good shape can eliminate any unwanted distractions while you are on vacation and afford you time upon your return to settle back into the routine.

  3. Establish communication channels. Manage and set expectations with your boss, employees, other work colleagues, and clients. Make sure they have a clear understanding of when you will return and who they should contact for emergency assistance. Then be sure to turn on and update your out-of-office and voicemail messages.

  4. Block your calendar. Don’t schedule big meetings, project deadlines, or work travel on your first few days back. Instead, focus on checking in with your boss, catching up with your team, and clearing out your email inbox and phone messages.

  5. Write your “to-do” list. You’ll feel much more in control if you know which tasks to prioritize and those that are coming due soon.


Adults employed full-time work reported working an average of 47 hours per week, according to a Gallup poll. You deserve a vacation, so take advantage of those earned benefits. As you sit down and plan your summer getaway, make sure your vacation plans incorporate some of these ideas to enjoy your time away from the office and allow for a stress-free return!


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About the Author

Col. Brian D. Anderson, USAF (Ret)
Col. Brian D. Anderson, USAF (Ret)

Anderson joined the staff of MOAA's Career Transition Services Department in August 2011. He served 26 years in the U.S. Air Force in a wide range of command and staff assignments. Connect with him on LinkedIn.