How to feel calm at work before your holiday


If you are like me, in the last week of work you realise how much you need the break, that you are tired, or you just want to get over the line

Sometimes you wonder if the stressful run up to your holiday is worth it.

This isn’t surprising, in a CIPD survey Health and Wellbeing 2021, workload / volume of work was the highest cause of workplace stress at 59%.

So, how about a calmer week before you go on holiday?  It is possible.

I have worked with clients using the following strategies to reduce stress and the feeling of overwhelm,  enabling them to effect change when they didn’t think it was possible.

1. Check Your Expectations

Do you usually give yourself an ambitious to do list before your holiday, so that you can get ahead of the game?

You wouldn’t attempt a long car journey just as you run out of fuel.  Yet this is the reality of the situation if you set yourself unrealistic expectations.

A common theme for many of my clients is the realisation that their previous expectations were based on their own assumptions and not those around them in the workplace.  Once they start to set realistic expectations their lives become less pressured and stressful.

Take time to consider your expectations and assumptions, how high are you setting the bar for yourself?  You can’t control everything.

2. Communicate

Sitting at your computer late on your last day putting together a detailed handover is the last thing you want before you go on holiday.   I know I’ve been there.

Effective communication prevents this happening. It’s important to be open and transparent about your plans. Just having it blocked out in your diary is not enough. Make sure all your key contacts and co works are aware of the dates.  It may seem like over communication but once is not enough.  In a busy organisation people forget or emails get missed, especially if you work remotely.

Taking leave is not unexpected, no one works all year without a holiday, talking about it is okay.

By doing this you are setting clear boundaries.   It also allows you to:

  • Forward plan
  • Openly discuss what is feasible
  • Negotiate timelines
  • Provide input in advance
  • Delegate


Letting go can be challenging but accepting that you can’t do everything yourself is important.  When done correctly delegation empowers individuals, builds trust, and assists with professional development. 

Don’t leave it too late, take the time to…

  • Pick the right person.
  • Explain why you’re delegating.
  • Set clear expectations.
  • Delegate responsibility and authority.
  • Arrange a follow up session on your return

Don’t make assumptions, even about the small things. You will enjoy your holiday far more knowing that you have covered all the bases.

4. Get comfortable saying NO

You are not alone if you find saying no difficult.  It’s very common especially among those of us who are people pleasers.  But it can lead to overload,  longer hours and missed deadlines.

If you have clear expectations, communicate and delegate saying no is easier and often looks like…

  • I’d love to give this my full energy and attention, can it wait until I return?
  • I haven’t got time until I return from leave, however I know someone who can support you with this. 
  • Can we have a conversation to discuss priorities over the next couple of weeks?
  • Is it possible to give my input for that meeting beforehand?  I’ll catch up with the actions on my return.
  • Time blocking your diary.

These suggestions may feel awkward, at first, but they work.  One of my clients was upset and feeling overwhelmed in our first session and we made this a priority.  She was amazed that deadlines could easily be moved or negotiated. She just had to ask.  For the first time in months, she stopped working late and at weekends, and started to sleep better.

5. Time Blocking

In the run up to your holiday knowing that you may be tired or exhausted you need to anticipate lower levels of energy, alertness, concentration and motivation.   

Time blocking your diary allows you to…

  • Allocate realistic time slots to complete tasks and actions.
  • Create some free space in your diary to address last-minute unexpected issues.
  • Block space late in the day so you can get home and start preparing for your holiday.

If someone wants to arrange a meeting at these times or needs to speak to you, they will contact you rather than putting it in automatically.  You can choose whether this needs to be addressed or you can say no.   

Developing new ways of working

Establishing new ways of working can feel uncomfortable and false, but you will only see change if you start to put them into action.  

Knowing what should be done and believing you can do it delivers a nice hit of dopamine to the brain. But thinking you can do it isn’t enough.  Once you have tested the water a few times and achieved positive results, you can start to take more control of your situation.

Changing established patterns of behaviour and thought processes takes conscious effort, that’s why we resist and sometimes give up, but it is worth it!

Enjoy your holiday!

If you are looking for a happier and more fulfilling life at work, book a FREE CALL with me.


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