How to Avoid Worrying About Work on Holiday

Is your body on the beach but your brain still in the office?

Holidays are not only good for your health, but also good for your business. Scientific research shows that people who take a holiday benefit from reduced stress levels, are at lower risk of developing heart disease, and boast higher levels of productivity. But for the majority of us, the pressures of modern work, coupled with the complexities of hybrid working and an ‘always-on, always available’ mentality that has blurred the lines between work & personal, can make it extremely difficult for us to switch off our minds, as well as our screens, when we finally get to take some time off.

But is the pressure from our workplace, or is it self-inflicted?

How can organisations help?

‘Always-on’ cultures certainly do not help people to relax, and concerns about the prevalence of AI can make some people fearful of being replaced if they are not always available, with a threat of work-life balance being over-taken by work-life integration.

There has also been an increase in ‘leaveism’, where people use annual leave to replace sick days or to catch up on work rather than to step away from it. A CIPD survey revealed that 70% of organisations are actually observing this behaviour in their people. 

To ensure their people don’t burn-out and take the holidays they are entitled to, business leaders and line managers need to role-model the behaviours they want to see in their team by using their holiday allocations and communicating clearly to employees about how their work will be covered, as well as explaining there is no expectation for a person to be contactable or respond to emails/calls whilst on holiday.  

Organisations need to re-frame holidays not just as beneficial to the employee, but the employer too.

So, how can we help ourselves to make the most of our holidays?

It’s rare that we ever get everything done. So make a list of the things that must be done before you go, and diligently commit to doing so. Block out your diary on your last day at work to ensure that you can deal with any last minute things that pop up.


In the weeks before your holiday, prepare your clients and your team/colleagues. Let people know who their contact is in your absence. Even if you can’t introduce them in-person beforehand, make sure a connection happens via email, which includes all relevant contact details for both parties.
Prepare for your return too – keep your diary free on the first day back so you can catch up on your emails and get a debrief from your team.
Holidays are a great way to give people a chance to step up. If it’s your own business or a team, then this is an ideal opportunity for individuals to take responsibility and show what they can do.

Power off

Consider taking a separate phone so that you can avoid constantly checking your emails. Or if you can’t avoid work totally, set clear times about when you’ll be contactable and stick to them. One additional tip is to turn off your email notifications, so that the small red icon with the number of emails you have waiting for you never appears. Just seeing the number increase can add to your stress. The emails will be there upon your return, so turn off the visual reminder.

If you don’t have a separate work phone, consider temporarily deleting your email app and turning off group notifications.

Learn to stop worrying and start living

If you’re still worried about taking time off, try and use these principles taken from Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
1) Live in day-tight compartments – yesterday has already happened and tomorrow is unknown, but you have complete control over the present.
2) What’s the worst that can happen? – Even in the worst possible scenarios there’s generally a solution. Try and rationalise situations by asking yourself, “Will this matter in 6 months time?”

And finally….

Relax and enjoy your break, you deserve it!

For more tips and free resources on how to better prepare for your holiday download:

Time Management Guide 

Secrets of Success to learn more about Dale Carnegie’s principles from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living