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How Not To Dread Going Back To Work After A Vacation

Apr 17, 2023

As an employed full-time physician, I am entitled to have a certain number of vacation days. I always choose to utilize the vacation days because I value the time to rest and appreciate life.

I used to spend weeks and even months looking forward to my longer vacations (more than a week long). While I was able to enjoy most of the time off, I would start thinking about going back to work two to three days before the vacation ended. The thought of having to catch up with work, the thought of vacation was coming to an end, the thought of going back to reality – all those thoughts gave me a dreadful feeling. It was almost to the point that I wish I worked straight through and did not take time off to go away. It was even worse if I flew away to a time zone with six or more hours of time difference.

This time around, I made the decision to enjoy every single day of my vacation, and I would not dread coming back. Of course I love vacations. Of course, if I could, I would be on vacation every day, but that is not how I want to live just yet.

The family trip to Hawaii was a long-awaited trip. It was supposed to happen in 2022 and was postponed due to the COVID pandemic.

As I am more aware of my thoughts and feelings, I reflected on the thoughts behind my dreadful feeling after a vacation. What if I could change the situation and the sentences in my head altogether?

The decision to make everything about my vacation a deliberate choice was a no-brainer. The challenge was to actually implement it.

First, I decided to minimize my usual dread after vacation – the catching up with work part. I did more preparation work, such as writing chemotherapy orders, ordering labs and imaging studies ahead of time. I also made sure the covering provider knew my plans for particular patients ahead of time.

Ensuring good coverage of your patients work well in a group practice setting. Some of you may have to modify the coverage structure in your practice to suit your needs. For solo practitioners, it is a common practice to work out coverage with one or more other solo practitioners, so your patients will have some degree of continuity of care.

Second, I decided to not think about work during my vacation. Since I did the preparation work, and I had been finishing my patient charts on time, I did not have to worry about completing any patient charts while on the beach. I made sure my whole office knew that I was going away, far away, during my days off, and not to contact me.

Being fully present during the time off, being able to enjoy the precious moments, and being able to create invaluable memories – everything I hoped for in a vacation. As my vacation was coming to an end, I was bringing those wonderful events and memories with me. I was full of gratitude because of the vacation, the time to get away, and the opportunity I had to make it even better.

Third, I carried the gratitude back home with me. When you are grateful, you focus on the good things in life, and less on the unpleasant things. Yes, I was not ignoring the fact that I had to go back to work, and no doubt there would be some catching up to do. Yet the magnitude of gratitude far exceeds the dread I used to feel in the past with my vacations.

Fourth, I usually schedule to return home one day before I go back to work. That is my buffering day, the day to reset and prepare myself back on track with work, mentally and physically. This is especially helpful with jet lag.

Then I eased my way back to the routine of work, feeling hopeful, refreshed and grateful.

My hope for you is to be able to fully enjoy your vacation, and instead of feeling the dread, you feel energized, joyful, hopeful and grateful when you return to work.

Are you ready to stop feeling stressed and overwhelmed? Are you ready to have more time to do what you want?


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