I love spring break and vacations as much as anyone, however, I think I hate returning to work more than the average person…
This may come as a surprise to you but I’m a bit of a hard-charging person. Genetics, lifestyle, and bad choices forced me for a while to create this “productive” person. In another blog I’ll address the industrial nature of “super-productivity”. For now let’s talk about why it’s so hard to return from a few days off.
Dopamine is the king of kings when it comes to brain chemistry. Human nature leads us to chase feeling good as feeling good used to lead to us living another day. With advances in tech, processed foods, drugs and alcohol, however, we’ve short circuited a few of these items.
For us to survive and thrive in a productive environment, most of us have adapted the “struggle” to give us a dopamine kick. We use work and its challenges to give us rewards. It’s a learned skill but is essential for your survival in today’s “fast paced” work environment. Your brain is pretty smart though and is always looking for the easier route. When looking at spring break or vacation, it is usually the not-so-beneficial source of dopamine. We scroll socials longer, watch more tv, or maybe kick back a few extra drinks to unwind.
It only takes 2-3 days for this to become the new desired norm. It makes that “struggle” when we come back even harder. The good news is that the reset back to normal can happen just as quickly if not even faster.
How to get back at it after spring break
The last thing you will want is go to 100% but that’s exactly what gets us to normal the soonest. The 1st week of April I will be going on vacation. What I will be applying after some “research” on myself is coming back at 110% then tapering by Friday.
I have a system in place, setting myself up for deep work until resistance fades away. When I want to take time off I make a list of what needs to be done. This time I will take it further. A list of what needs to happen before I leave and what needs to be done right when I return. I will have it ready for the Monday I get back to work.
I won’t waste any brain cycles thinking about what to get done. Instead, I will go to the office, grab my task list and burn it to the ground. It will be overwhelming, and I will probably have an extra cup of coffee. At 10:30am I will feel back to my at-work mindset. This typically takes me days if not weeks if I “slowly” add back tasks.
The other 23 hours of your day
I realize this isn’t about exercise but it is about the other 23 hours of your day. If you want to exercise better, we have to control outside of the gym better also. Balancing my brain chemistry is priority number 1, and it allows the other items to take place and get done. If you haven’t placed any attention there it might be time too. Your life takes place outside of the gym, don’t forget that.
-Author Jonathan Royston