Why Vacationing at Work & Working on Vacation Works

How to vacation while working and work on a vacation – I’ve been thinking about this for the past month since interviewing a fascinating physician and stress expert, Dr. Aditi Nerurkar.

It’s particularly timely. Right now, I’m on a beach vacation. It’s great. Going to the beach, playing in the sand and jumping in the ocean, making time for some golf, a dip in the pool and sampling a tropical cocktail here and there.

But there are moments when I want to make time for work – albeit in the morning before people wake up or at night.

Here’s the rub: there are times when I’m working at home when I take little bits of vacation. Maybe I walk a dog midday. Or I go to a daughter’s school lunch or game. Or I do something for myself during a gap between meetings. I still wrap all the work up at night when everyone else is sleeping.

I’ve done this for a decade – though I’ve not been open about it. Talking about working on vacation makes me feel like someone who can’t disconnect. And injecting fun bits into the workday – well, I’ve feared that would be frowned upon as me not being committed to work.

But I recently sat down with Dr. Nerurkar, a Harvard-trained doctor and stress expert, and she changed how I think about the stress created by our decisions around work and life. We were discussing her book “The 5 Resets: Rewire Your Brain and Body for Less Stress and More Resilience” on the Bright Horizons Work Life Equation podcast. Priya Krishnan and I had both read and loved her book – and joked about who was a bigger fan. (Me!)

A week later, when Priya and I were together to record another episode, we talked about how Dr. Nerurkar had given us permission to live and work the way we were. Her advice was so validating and healthy.

Dr. Nerurkar came to her specialty by trying to figure out her owned stressed-out life as a doctor, mother, wife, and human. That work allowed her to distill her learnings and advice into 5 key areas.

Here’s a story that really resonated. Dr. Nerurkar had a physician colleague who loved to play the guitar but felt he should only play it on the weekends. That’s when fun happened. During the week he should be laser-focused on patient care. A vegetables before dessert approach.

Only problem was the guy was stressed out – and probably not making optimal decisions. So, Dr. Nerurkar pushed back and told him he needed to play the guitar during the week. Simple enough.

When she saw him next, he not only had taken her advice, but he was happier for it. He was playing the guitar and being a high-level doctor.

It resonated with me. Why cover up a break in the day when that time away from your desk will make you more productive? Why let the stress of not doing work you’d like to do – and can squeeze in when you’re not with your family – cause stress on vacation?

Going into the weekend, if you want to learn more, listen to the podcast we recorded with her – https://bit.ly/3Vyba2B

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