28/08/2015 9:53 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST

How To Actually Switch Off On Your Next Holiday

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Young woman in hat with mobile phone at the beach

You have a chronic fear of flying. You’re deeply disappointed with your holiday destination. Everything that looked so precious in that travel brochure was a darn lie! Where are cocktails, mocktails and palm trees? Your suitcase ended up in Paris instead of Perth. What’s meant to be a time to de-stress can quickly turn travellers into anxious stress-heads.

For most of us, travelling is a time to unwind and rejuvenate. But there are plenty of people who not only find travel stressful, they also refuse to relax -- constantly checking work emails and failing to really switch off.

Perhaps the biggest nightmare is also the simplest one -- being unable to forget about work, uni, an upcoming operation for the dog or whatever else is consuming you. So how do you ensure being at your dream destination does not become a case of ‘same problems, different location?’

Best-selling author of The Happiness Trap, Russ Harris, wants to help people make sure their time out of the office is spent wisely, so they come back to work de-stressed, with a calm mind.

“It’s all about being more mindful. If you’re constantly thinking or worrying about work, you are not going to enjoy your holiday or your weekend. What happens to a lot of us is that your mind says, ‘What’s happening on Facebook or in the office? What emails am I missing?” said Harris.

“When you notice your mind saying that, you need to unhook yourself and say, "Right, now I’m here on the beach, or hiking the mountain, and bring your attention back to what you are doing at that moment.”

It sounds simple, no? Not for all of us. The sad truth is many of us find it absolutely impossible to put stressful work-related matters out of our mind and only focus on what you are doing "in the moment."

If you identify with this, Harris has some advice for you:

“If there is absolutely no way you can go on holiday or spend a weekend without doing any work, then you need to schedule your time wisely. Tell yourself that you’ll devote 1-2 hours, say between 8am and 10am, to work. And then you must bring your attention back to what you’re doing right here, right now.”

“If you can’t wind down because you’re worrying about your social media or emails, then just devote 20 minutes a day and make a promise to yourself that once you’ve finished, you are done for the day. Otherwise you’re just wasting valuable holiday time.”

Harris also advises people to fully engage with the five senses.

“Get out of your head and engage with the world so that you come back to what you see, what you hear, touch, taste and smell. Focus on what you’re doing, focus on the world around you,” said Harris.

“Just pause for a few seconds and notice where you are, what you are doing and see if you can engage in it. Put all your attention into that activity. It sounds simple but, for some people, this is very difficult. If you can achieve this, you’ll return to work feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world.”