The gruelling pre/post-vacation "workout"

The gruelling pre/post-vacation

One of the most gruelling workouts I’ve ever done is the “pre-vacation workout” which typically lasts the entire week prior to my vacation. It goes something like this:

  • Schedule every current client/patient this week and then rebook all of them for the week I return because I will have been gone for almost 3 weeks and they’ll really need a check in.
  • Finish that report and schedule in that feedback session because I don’t want them waiting another 3 weeks for the feedback (even though I just finished the testing today).
  • And make sure to return all the phone calls and emails I receive before leaving, and... and... and...

Coming in at a close second is the gruelling “post-vacation workout” that awaits me when I return. It’s closely related to the “pre-vacation workout” as that one typically leaves me with little or no breathing room in my post-vacation schedule to respond to phone messages, emails, etc. that arrived during my absence. Sadly, unlike other workouts (Zumba, walking, lifting weights, mowing the lawn) these “pre-and post-vacation workouts” have no benefits to my physical or emotional wellness and they actually come with numerous side effects (irritability, exhaustion, difficulty sleeping, etc.).

I don’t recall exactly where/when I learned my “pre-and-post-vacation workout” routines but I’m pretty sure the student mindset, gender socialization, and workplace factors were major influences. I’ve tried in the past to alter these workouts with varying degrees of success but it wasn’t until this past June when I made the most progress.

My *revised* “pre-vacation workout” went something like this:

  • Review existing client/patient list to determine who requires more support and schedule their appointments, ensuring some breathing space is available in the event of unexpected events leading up to my vacation. (I don’t know about you but something always seems to pop up the week prior to my vacation that really does require my attention!)
  • Stagger other clients accordingly, leaving ample room for responding to phone messages and emails upon my return.
  • Change voice message and set up email auto response before my vacation begins to alert folks of my upcoming absence (thereby putting less pressure on me to answer all the phone messages and emails prior to starting my vacation).

As you might imagine, this new “pre-vacation workout” also significantly changed my “post-vacation workout” in positive ways. I’ll be honest, these workouts were still gruelling in their own way as they gave my courage and self-compassion muscles quite the work out! Unlike my original “pre-and post- vacation workouts,” however, these revised ones produced numerous benefits resulting in me leaving for and returning from my vacation in a well-rested, calm, and happy state.

What do your “pre-and post-vacation workouts” look like? If they have more negative side effects and few/no benefits, what are some changes you could make to them this summer to reduce the negative side effects and enhance the benefits?