Stress-Free Vacations: Is Time Off a Chance to Recharge or Collapse?

Have you ever been relaxing but not felt relaxed?

Despite physically doing the relaxing activity, part of you is tethered to all the work you’ve left undone.

People who care about their work or who have set high expectations for themselves, can have the hardest time truly embracing downtime.

The inability to take refreshing breaks and have stress-free vacations is a precursor to burnout.

For many, taking time off is not worth the extra stress it takes to leave work behind.

I remember that feeling well.

Friends would say to me, “Allison, take time off – you need it.”

I’d scoff and get defensive.

“Don’t tell me what to do. I don’t need time off. I love my work.”

Truthfully, I was spinning in a destructive stress spiral. 

I was unaware of the negative impact my attachment to the grind was having on my health, work, and relationships.

To this day, my natural tendency is to power through and get the work done – often to the detriment of my health.

Teetering on this fine line has proven to be quite the balancing act – for me and for my clients.

Not enough pressure leads to boredom and feels unfulfilling.

Too much pressure for too long leads to epic levels of exhaustion, lower quality of work, and ultimately – burnout.

The strongest early indication that I’m leaning too far over to the side of burnout is noticing if time off feels like a “collapse” or a “recharge.” 

Spotting the difference for yourself or the people you care about empowers you to realign your balance before life forces you to change your ways.

Sadly, for me, it took some heavy life blows and health challenges before I proactively adjusted my approach to stress.

Here’s the difference:

A Collapse:

It’s a need to escape work driven by pure exhaustion or frustration. You have nothing left in your tank – emotionally, mentally or physically – to deal with anything or anyone in a way you desire.

When it’s time to return to work, you feel anxiety and dread. These sensations can be described as ‘Sunday Scaries’ or ‘Monday Morning Moods.’

If these are weekly occurrences, that’s a good sign that you’re one of the 70% of employees, business owners or executives who are statistically working in the burnout zone. 

A Recharge:

Sure, you’re tired after a workweek, but you’re still enthusiastic about what’s to come. You’re able to embrace the moment and participate in activities you enjoy.

Time off feels less about escaping work and more about embracing life. When it’s time to go back to work, you’re ready and refreshed.

Which option sounds better to you?

There are two steps I take for myself and with my clients to change a collapse to a recharge:

Alleviate the guilt by shifting expectations. To-do lists don’t end, they are task circles. Stop chasing fully completed lists.

Create systems you trust to capture your priorities, get the work done efficiently, and address issues as they happen. Stronger systems mean less angst.

People don’t struggle to relax when they are satisfied with their workweek and feel accomplished.

The angst is created when tasks and problems hang overhead without any resolution. That makes it harder to detach from work and fully relax.

Do you agree?

Whether you’ve just celebrated Canada Day or are about to break for Independence Day, my hope for you is that you feel fully and completely relaxed.

Allison “Embracing the Recharge” Graham

P.S. As we enter the second half of 2024, thank you for inviting me into your personal development journey. I’m grateful to share my insights with you and hope you find them valuable!

A little client story that’s related…

“Allison, I feel like I’m drowning at work.”

“I understand. I’ve been there. My online courses will show you a way to fix that. After you’re done them both, let’s chat.”


Purchases course.

Follows all the lessons.

Next conversation.

“Allison, I feel so in control of my life! I don’t even know what happened.”

“I do. You optimized your workweek and had a system to reset when you felt overwhelmed.”

If it’s time for you to optimize and take control of your life – then check these online courses.

Crunch Time Turnaround: Go from Overwhelmed to Productive – FAST [Online Course]

Optimize your Workweek: The Ultimate Productivity System [Online Course]

Allison Graham headshot smiling leaning against a grey wall, blue cardigan and white top

Welcome! I'm Allison Graham

Let’s face it – life is tough enough without having behaviour patterns that make life harder than it needs to be! 

That’s why I’m obsessed with finding ways to make the human experience easier by offering strategies for problem solving, dealing with chronic pain, leveraging empowering stress, and stopping patterns that create destructive stress. 

I hope you find huge value in my content. To go deeper please check out my online courses, coaching, and keynote speeches