I'm having fun!Summer is around the corner and many of us are making vacation plans. Surprisingly, this can be a stressful time for many business people, especially entrepreneurs. “There is so much to do, how can I possibly get away?” is a common sentiment. For some people, vacations are as stressful as the most intense work experience.

Having been pressured into taking the reluctant vacation, many leaders will check their e-mail and work on projects remotely over their vacation. I recall one vacation to Hawaii when I scheduled phone coaching sessions from 6:00 a.m. until late morning. After the coaching sessions I was too exhausted to fully enjoy other activities such as snorkeling. Not only did I not “recharge,” my actions were grossly unfair to family members who had looked forward to spending quality time relaxing.

I have found there are 3 simple things to keep in mind when considering a vacation and focusing on the life part of work/life balance.

  1. Disconnect. Yes, it can be painful to set aside your smart phone, iPad, or computer. But, doing so connects you not only with your family but with yourself as well. I have used vacations to think about long-term, important things about my life.

The easiest way to disconnect is to take a vacation that literally forces you to disconnect, such as a cruise or remote camping trip. Not only are these vacations inherently relaxing, you will have plenty of time to focus on family or friends who are on the trip with you. This lowers everyone’s stress level.

I may take a day or so to fully get into relaxation mode, but after that I can then focus on recharging my energy and enjoying new activities, such as sitting on a balcony watching for whales as I read the latest Brad Thor thriller. Or, if I am camping, I can hike off a big breakfast and see beautiful mountains and waterfalls.

  1. Connect with your loved ones or friends who are with you. They deserve the best from you. Over the preceding months you may have missed many events such as soccer games, plays, or just an evening around the dinner table. Now is your opportunity to reconnect with your loved ones and create memories that will last a lifetime and beyond.

Have good conversations, listen to their tales and think about how you can be a better parent, husband, wife, or friend in the year ahead.

  1. Experience something new or try something different you can’t do at home. On a cruise to Mexico a few years ago I tried zip lining. Sailing across the treetops hundreds of feet above the ground was exhilarating. And the fact that I did it with my family members gave us stories and laughs for years. My wife and I still talk about our visit to the Louvre many years ago; but I can’t recall what project I was working on during that timeframe. Vacations are more than stress management, they are memory builders!

As you make your summer plans – consider a cruise or camping trip. Disconnect, and get to know those you love – make some memories! You will return to the office energized and looking at things from a fresh perspective. Tell us how you use vacations to reduce stress.


Ben McDonald

Ben is a leadership and talent development thought leader. He has worked with executive teams in over 20 countries and multiple industries growing and inspiring talent and organizations to achieve their best.

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