Living the legal life can be rewarding, thrilling, challenging, and even exciting at times.
It can also be grueling, monotonous, difficult, and frustrating—depending on the day, the case you’re working on, your colleagues, or any number of factors that might be entirely out of your control. Sometimes, you just need to unplug and get yourself back on track, and the best way to do that is to book yourself a satisfying vacation. Whether you’re planning on wandering the back streets of Paris or lounging on the beach in Jamaica, it still might be hard to truly relax when you remember how much is going on without you at the office. Next time you pack your bags and head out of town for a little R&R, here’s how you can make sure you get to experience a “real” vacation.
Choose Your Location and Vibe Wisely
For example, if you live and work in New York City, Tokyo—while exciting—might be too much of the same hustle and bustle and not give you a chance to really kick back. Consider trying a quieter city if you’re looking for an urban feel—try strolling through Copenhagen or Nice, perhaps. Or book a tropical getaway and stock up on suntan lotion if you want to shut your brain off more easily.
Unplug and Make Sure the Office Knows to Leave You Alone
This might be the hardest step of relaxing on vacation, but it’s also the most important one. For most lawyers, completely avoiding work for a stretch of several days is simply not a possibility. But remember: You’re taking this vacation for a reason, so don’t squander the opportunity to truly slow down and take a breath. This will require meticulous planning—let your coworkers and clients know when you’ll be officially off the clock. Wrap up what you can and arrange for colleagues to take over necessary tasks in your absence. This will lessen the amount of work you’ll have to do while you’re away.
Set a specific time of day (keep it short) to check email and make phone calls—and stick to that time limit no matter what. Resist the urge to regularly check in and email your colleagues about how things are going; every brief will be there when you get back, and it can all be handled just fine in your absence. Stay off social media as much as possible as well, because the more you hold your phone in your hand, the more tempted you’ll be to check in on work and disrupt your precious leisure time. If you plan everything just right, you should be able to enjoy at least the first few days of your vacation completely work free, allowing for a soothing time from day one. Don’t be that lawyer whose vacations consist of doing work in a tropical or exotic location while friends and family are off actually enjoying themselves.
The whole reason you’re booking a vacation in the first place is to treat yourself, so make sure you practice plenty of self-care while you’re away. Beyond unplugging and putting the day-to-day stresses of being an attorney out of your mind, make sure you get to do exactly what you want. Spend your vacation taking care of yourself, whether you go alone, with friends, or with a partner. Take plenty of time to read that book you’ve been meaning to check out (and preferably, that book will have nothing to do with the legal field) or start every morning with a yoga session or a casual stroll around the city, on the beach, or whatever locale you’ve chosen. Make sure to properly savor your time off; you might not be able to get away from the office for a while once you get back, so make the most of every second and take care of yourself.
Ultimately, your mindset will be one of biggest factors in how much true relaxation you can get out of your vacation time. This is a situation where mindfulness is a necessity—allow yourself to be in the moment and fully experience activities and emotions as they happen. You won’t be able to do that if one part of your mind is still at the office, going over cases and fighting with yourself not to pore over your inbox and make a bunch of calls. A truly refreshing vacation necessitates the ability to let go and not obsess about things you can take care of when you get back.