10 Tips to Unplug on Vacation

Disconnecting from work can be a challenge, but it is possible.
Exploring nature is a good way to detox and get away from the digital world. (Photo by Joya Chapman)

Exploring nature is a good way to detox and get away from the digital world. (Photo by Joya Chapman)

Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer and the beginning of vacation season. For some, a vacation is a time to relax and completely disconnect from the daily pressures of work. For those who find unplugging more difficult or even impossible, Joi Alexander, director of Health Initiatives, and Tiffiny Hughes-Troutman, director of the Center for Assessment, Referral, and Education (CARE), suggest 10 tips to unplug.

  • Recognize that you need and deserve a vacation. Taking a vacation is a method to honor and take care of yourself and prioritize self-care. 
  • Set expectations with supervisors, colleagues, clients, and others. Make sure you communicate that when you are on vacation you will not respond immediately. Utilize your out-of-office email reply to inform individuals you are not in the office and the date of your return. Include the name of someone to contact in case of emergency.
  • Start a mindfulness practice in the morning and before bed that will help you relax during the day.
  • Avoid multitasking. Minimize or close your email program, chat logs, and news or entertainment websites so you can focus and be present.
  • Set up a time during the day to detox and get away from the digital world. Read a book, write in a journal, explore nature, or practice mindfulness and meditation.
  • It can be tempting to check your work email while on vacation. The simplest way to avoid this is by turning off all work-related notifications. If you are one of those people who feel you should always be checking work emails, set up specific, limited times to check in each day.
  • Try to avoid “checking in” with your colleagues, as this opens the opportunity for you to be available for work and creates unrealistic expectations for you and your team while you are on vacation.
  • Consider a staycation. If you truly can’t get away for an extended period, proactively schedule more long weekends that will still feel like a break and well-deserved time away. And make sure you actually unplug from work.
  • Make yourself accountable to others. Ask your family, friends, and co-workers to call you out if they catch you working. Unplugging could be new and a little uncomfortable for you, and sharing this with others allows you to solidify your commitment.

For the final tip, Alexander suggests practicing self-compassion. “Due to our heavy reliance on technology, you may find it challenging to unplug so take it one step at a time,” she said. “Give yourself grace and don’t feel guilty for unplugging.”

Hughes-Troutman added that the best way to unplug is to plan a vacation that demands your full attention. “Make plans that include what you truly enjoy. It is much easier to avoid your electronics if you are genuinely engaged in your vacation.”

If you are traveling, it is best practice to test for Covid-19 when you return to ensure it is safe to return to work. Georgia Tech continues to offer asymptomatic Covid-19 testing on campus this summer.