As we move into the halcyon days of summer most of us are so overstressed; we find it difficult to capture time off for a relaxing vacation. There is no

question the sense of overload we live with daily takes its toll leaving us in a less than ideal state of mind to kick back and enjoy the opportunity to regenerate.

How can you mentally get your head in the game so you can savor your freedom from work and responsibility time you’ve been longing for in the midst of your toughest days?

Going For Perfection—Stressful: Are you someone who works long into the night clearing every scrap of paper off your desk only to return home intent on vacuuming and dusting every nook of your surroundings? You’ll achieve your personal brass-ring when you’re able to depart with everything done and perfectly organized both in the office and at home. It may sound like a good idea; however, it sets you up for disappointment at both ends of the equation. Think about the moment you return to work—how does your desk appear? Project free? Or remember your home once you haul in your luggage and vacation paraphernalia—instant mess—correct? Such a strategy was my go-to approach before scheduled time off until one time I had to leave town with my “to-do” list unfinished. Did disaster occur on my return? No, in fact, I discovered I was not any less relaxed upon returning to a less-than-immaculate office and home, but I was a whole heck of a lot more relaxed leaving town. Umm? Now, I examine my “to-do” list with a laser eye. If it isn’t an urgent must be completed before I leave activity—it is not on my pre-vacation “to-do now”—list!

Don’t Eliminate Planning Entirely—Stress Releaser: You’ll want to lock-in your favorite room overlooking that quaint courtyard or book that amazing snorkeling spot you discovered. Or if you’re like me—travel to a particular point on the map and explore from there. Such a vagabond trip means less precise preparation; however, even wandering the back roads requires some coordination if you don’t want to go off the rails. Handling the must dos as early as possible boosts the success of your vacation—one with far less stress.

Mentally Be Off-the-Grid—Stress-Free: For some, one of the toughest choices is to unplug your electronics. If your organization is pressuring you to stay in touch, resist the demands, or you’re truly not on vacation. Be vague, by saying: “The geographic difference makes it infeasible to work and spend time with family.” “I’ll check in when I can, but no guarantees.” Then, train yourself to hold firm. The moment you enter the email fray you’ve created an unspoken contract that has you working instead of vacationing. Be confident as you create appropriate boundaries for yourself. After all, it is your time off.

No healthy company is handing out rewards to executives whose slice of the pie falls apart when they go on vacation rather they’re touting the executives who have built a strong, capable team. Honestly, the deciding factor for promotions isn’t working hard. But of even more value, vacations offer you an opportunity to renew, regenerate, so you return to the office stronger, brimming with enthusiasm and ideas to make a difference and be far more productive.

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