How to have a stress-free holiday

November 9, 2010, 10:42 amwomenshealth

Our stress-reducing escape plan will make thoughts of the office roll out with the tide

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We asked top time-management experts for advice on how to make your getaway glow last at least as long as your tan


Start early

Plan a Tuesday-to-Tuesday trip, but work as if you’re leaving the Friday before. This gives you time to deal with last-minute problems. The last day before your holiday won’t be hectic, and you can leave without feeling totally stressed out. And isn’t that the point?

Plan ahead

The office will survive without you if you’re organised. A week before you leave, meet your manager to update them on your projects and who will cover for you, advises Dr Jan Yager, author of Creative Time Management.

Find people who can make decisions in your absence. On the morning of your last day, leave a clear “I’m away” phone message with single contact rather than long-winded options. Callers who need to speak to you will leave a message; the others will take their problem elsewhere.

Check your passport

Expired? Don’t panic. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s priority-processing service ($75) guarantees that an eligible applicant’s passport will be ready for collection or despatch within two working days of the passport office receiving everything it needs. Visit Passports or call Australia Post on 131 318 for your nearest passport office.

Take the mail

What’s more stressful on holiday: email or no email? If a quick check-in will help you check out, do it, says Yager. But set strict boundaries – for example, only check emails for 30 minutes in the morning.

Land softly

Buffer your break with a recovery day. “If you’re coming back on the 14th, tell people you’re coming back on the 15th,” suggests Sunny Schlenger, author of How To Be Organized in Spite of Yourself . “This gives you an extra day to deal with the emails and calls that have been backed up.”

If an extra day is a luxury you can’t afford, keep your first-day-back schedule light, and don’t try to clear the inevitable backlog in one morning, says Yager.

5-minute stress break

Smiling releases hormones that help you de-stress. Although a heartfelt smile has a deeper effect, research shows that even fake smiles can do the job.

So, spend a few minutes smiling at the mirror – it might make you feel foolish, but it’s better than feeling frazzled.