Vacation: Relaxation or Recreation?


With summer vacation mode still running at warp speed, we wanted to share a few thoughts on how to make the most of your time away from your business. If you have already logged your annual summer excursion and are now sorting through the 500 digital photos you took, read on and let us know if any of this is familiar.

How many times have you heard someone say they are looking forward to vacation and some “relaxation” and then proceed to tell you about 20 recreational events they are going to do over the course of their one week vacation?   It can be exhausting just listening to their schedule.  Yes, for some people these activities can actually recharge their batteries, but for many it leaves you returning home feeling more like you are wiped out than rested up.

There is nothing wrong with having a vacation that includes a lot of recreational activities, but don’t confuse recreation with relaxation.  Consider scheduling some time for relaxation.  We live in world running at break neck speed.  If you don’t intentionally schedule some relaxation into your life (vacation or not) you probably aren’t going to get it.  Research has shown if you want to be at your best mentally, emotionally, and physically you need adequate rest and downtime.

Some great ways to schedule Relaxation on your Vacation….(or at home)

  • Getting a massage
  • A relaxing warm bath or pool
  • Listening to soothing music
  • Reading a calming book
  • Scenic Drives or Train rides
  • Fishing (relaxing along a lake or stream)

It seems most vacations are filled with Recreation and that is probably better aligned with Leisure Activities than something that was meant to recharge your batteries.  Certainly physical activities are good for the mind and body, but done in excess, it can leave you feeling drained.  

Recently, I had someone inform me they were taking the following Monday off after their 10 day “vacation” just so they could rest up and be ready for work on Tuesday.    Though I don’t think there were any regrets in the 10 days, it was filled with a lot of driving, family activities, and packing and unpacking suitcases multiple times during this “vacation”.   Who wouldn’t need an extra day to rest?

These would all be Recreation on your Vacation….(or at home)

  • Attending a Sporting Event or Concert
  • Strenuous Hikes or Bike Rides
  • Horseback Riding
  • Amusement Parks
  • Water Sports:  Skiing, Snorkeling, Swimming, Rafting
  • Outdoor Camping

Two other variables about vacations are nutrition & sleep.   It seems even the healthiest eaters tend to “go on vacation” with regards to eating habits.   Hey, why not order that Deep Fried-Bacon Wrapped-Triple Cheese- Tatter Tot Sandwich for breakfast?   And often the evenings are filled with events that extend well into our regular sleeping hours.   So if you have a regular sleeping pattern you may experience the equivalent of jetlag once vacation is over.

What is best?  If you don’t want to return from vacation feeling like you need to take a few days off, the best option is probably a blend of relaxation and activities.  But try to intentionally schedule some relaxation time into your trip.  Don’t let it just be the afterthought at the end of the day.    As a business owner or manager your business needs you to be 100% when you return, don’t come home with your energy level running on empty.

So what does (or did) your summer vacation align with most?  Recreation or Relaxation?   Did you return feeling charged up or drained out?  We would love to hear your thoughts in the space below.  

Chris Steinlage Kansas City Business Coach