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How to Truly Disconnect for Summer Vacation

woman sitting on a hill

Photo credit: gladkov/123rf

We tell teachers and students to log off, go outside, and get some much needed fresh air during the summer– but when was the last time you took your own advice? We get it, it can be difficult. Staying on top of emails is important, but not at the cost of family time, recreation, and even your own mental health. 



If you find yourself catching a quick look at your phone at the beach or sneaking a peek at emails during dinner, you likely need a break. You probably know this, but the question is, how do you truly disconnect?


Don’t guilt yourself over taking a break

It’s important to understand that you deserve a break. As a district leader, you have a lot on your shoulders. It’s easy to think you must constantly be plugged in and logged on to do your job well, but evidence to the contrary is overwhelming. According to the Harvard Business Bureau, taking time off increases productivity, lowers stress, and improves your mental health. What’s more, “Research shows that those who take more than 10 days of vacation are 30% more likely to receive a raise, and those who take regular vacations have greater job satisfaction.” 


Though, if you’re not in the office daily like you are during the school year, the lines between work and home life can get blurry. This makes it harder to truly disconnect, especially since checking emails here and there after hours doesn’t always feel like work. You might trick yourself into thinking you’re taking time off, leaving you wondering why your break didn’t rejuvenate you like you hoped it would. That’s why disconnecting–really disconnecting–is so important. 


Set a hard work schedule

Don’t bring work home with you. If you’re working from home, keep your work within your designated schedule. Yes, sometimes last-minute things come up that you must handle immediately, but once it’s dealt with, log off, turn off your notifications, and enjoy your evening. That is your time. Any emails you receive after hours can wait until morning. 


Leave your devices at home

Did you know two thirds of Americans work on vacation? Don’t be one of them, don’t even give yourself the option. When you’re on your summer getaway, leave the work laptop at home. Even go so far as to delete all the work-related apps from your phone. We know the urge to check in with your colleagues is strong, but they’ve got it handled. 


Give your coworkers your personal phone number

This might sound counterintuitive, but it’ll ease your mind when you notice you aren’t getting calls and texts about work every five minutes. When you have that line of communication open and it’s not being used, it’s because your coworkers don’t have to use it. This is a quick and easy way to give yourself peace of mind while you’re away. 


If you must, give yourself designated times to check your email

Maybe you have different circumstances and you’d feel more comfortable reaching out sometimes, like making sure a new coworker is adjusting well while you’re gone, or asking for a quick progress report on a big project. If that’s the case, give yourself designated times throughout the day to check, and only give yourself a few minutes with each check-in. Set a timer. Don’t let it take over your afternoon while on vacation!


Still, work is only part of the equation. We spend a good chunk of our personal time on our devices. To cut down further on phone dependency, here are a few more tips:


Turn off your phone when you go out

Or even better, leave it in the car entirely. If you have kids that may need to reach you in an emergency, give them the phone number of whomever you’ll be with so they can still reach you. 


Don’t post to social media immediately

We get it, the sunset looks absolutely gorgeous and you want everyone to be able to enjoy it too. Get your pictures, then put your phone away and enjoy the moment. It’ll pass you by if you spend so long thinking up the perfect caption! 


Establish “old school” habits of reflection

Nowadays we tend to use our social media profiles as diaries. We keep everyone updated on our lives and recap our vacation days publicly, and in turn, our reflections can feel like a performance– especially as likes and comments come flooding in. Writing down your honest thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a private journal has so many benefits for your mental health, and it’s a space where you can truly be yourself without an audience. 


Turn off notifications and utilize Do Not Disturb

Instagram, Twitter, Facebook…those little dings give us a hit of dopamine we become dependent on. Turn off the apps’ ability to access you at all times by deactivating notifications. You’ll be thankful you’re not getting so distracted whenever you hear that little sound!

Plus, most smartphones have a Do Not Disturb setting where you can mute all notifications for a specific period of time (or indefinitely!). Even an hour a day with your phone silenced can help improve your mood.


Charge your devices in a different room

Bonus points if it’s a room you don’t frequent. This goes double for your bedroom to fight that “check Facebook like it’s the morning paper” urge. 


Be wise with your screen time

Getting together with loved ones for in-person quality time isn’t always possible. When cutting down on screen time, it’s important to make sure you’re getting the most out of the time you do have to curb those cravings. FaceTime a friend you haven’t seen in a while, call a long distance family member, scroll through the page of someone you miss. It will feel so much better than mindless scrolling on any app!


Delete your social media apps

If you want a thorough detox while on vacation, get rid of all your social media apps. You can’t be tempted to scroll through Instagram if you can’t access it!

Originally posted 2022

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Abirra Nartel

These tips will undoubtedly inspire you, but the most important tip is to completely clear your mind and recharge your batteries. Don’t plan too much and sometimes just do nothing. Above all, remember to have fun this summer! It sounds a little old-fashioned these days, and it has nothing to do with your summer vacation.  However, writing a Thank You Note is number one on my list. Gratitude is the quickest way to recharge. Consider your coworkers or someone in the front office. I purchased a small pack of thank you cards and distributed a few, and I also purchased a basket from https://auntlauries.com/ as a reward for my efforts. You’ll feel great this summer after spreading a little goodwill and gratitude.