What´s the best way to switch off from work? (Photo: Maskot/TT)

Take control of your holiday

Published Jun 27, 2019

What’s the best way to relax on holiday? Head out into nature, stay active and switch off all notifications from your smartphone – so says a KTH working life researcher.

Kristina Palm, working life researcher.

Digitalisation has erased the boundaries between work and private life and time off. Some people find it relaxing and practical to check work email from a garden hammock, while others find such a lack of demarcation stressful.

No matter which type of person you are, recharging your batteries is important – and not just on holiday, Kristina Palm , a working life researcher at KTH and KI explains, who has researched how today’s always connected lifestyle affects us.

“Even evenings and weekends are times you need to recuperate – saving this until your summer holiday is probably not advisable. There is also research that shows that the more stressed and pressurised you are, the harder it can be to make the most of time off work.”

How do summer holidays work as a way to recharge your batteries?
“There’s not that much research been done into this. But if you start from what people say before they go on holiday, that it’s wonderful to take time off in summer, that they want to recharge their batteries, it’s probably true that you feel re-energised and that this energy is what probably gives you a thirst for work.”

Having said that Palm notes, this general thirst for work is naturally more related to your situation there – your work-related duties, relationships with colleagues, bosses and how your job as a whole is combined with other parts of your life.

If, despite everything, you still feel a need to be available to your office during the summer – to avoid stress – Palm’s advice is to establish clear procedures: switch off notification of incoming mail and set aside a specific time of the week to read your emails.

“One reason why people don’t want to switch off from work can be that they feel they need to keep an eye on things and not miss something important or to avoid a huge pile of emails when they return from holiday. Which means you get off to a better start when you’re back at your desk, and can avoid another big bout of stress.”

Managers have an important role to play and can do a lot more to prepare their employees for a good holiday, Palm explains. Use department mail addresses, discuss how to prioritise work tasks and ensure they create a calmer atmosphere both before and after the holiday period, are some of the things manager can do in this respect.

“I also think that as a manager, you need to say what your expectations are during the holidays – often that people actually should be totally free from work.”

What do you do yourself – do you have a totally free summer?
“This will be my first summer for many years when I have not had managerial responsibilities, and don’t need to be available by mail as before. I am going to open my mail at some point in the week, to be able to authorise invoices and check whether I have had a response from some publication I have submitted an article to.”

“I really like to be totally free – preferably somewhere in the world where there’s no internet connection.”

Text: Christer Gummeson

Kristina Palm’s three best tips for relaxing on holiday

  • Allow yourself time and energy to do things you want to do, ideally outdoors in our beautiful Swedish nature.
  • Switch off all notifications on your phone and make sure your work email doesn’t ping as soon as something happens.
  • Use your body physically, in the garden, out running or in the water, so you become physically tired.
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Last changed: Jun 27, 2019