mediation vacationA vacation should be a good thing, especially if it’s a short mental vacation during a mediation or negotiation session.

Vacations are a chance to break the cycle of your normal routine.  It can give you the opportunity to travel to new places and experience new things.  For some, they find relaxation is going to the same place, the same beach house or cabin in the woods, to get away from it all.

There are many things that can go wrong to make you wish you were back in your office, sweet office.  If you feel a need to ‘get away’ but also feel a need (rightly or wrongly) to stay connected to your job or business, while on ‘vacation’ you check e-mails and voice mails or call in to see what’s going on.  You’re not really working, but you’re not really vacationing either.

Practical issues can cause stress.  Flights may be delayed or canceled.  Hotel reservations may get mixed up.  The weather may not cooperate.  You may become ill or injure yourself in an accident.  If you’re vacationing with children, the potential for practical problems increases exponentially.

Even if you manage to find a vacation that suits your personality and desires, and all the practical issues go off without a hitch, that vacation bliss will probably only last as long as the vacation.  You may enjoy a break from normal, stressful life, but a vacation probably won’t alter your life such that you approach and handle stress in a more effective way.  One Dutch study of 54 vacationers published in 2012 found that even long vacations (averaging 23 days) had only a temporary effect on people.  The health and welfare benefits of a three week vacation were found to have worn off the first week back at work.

While a vacation may or may not provide you a welcome respite from work, a mental vacation during mediation or negotiation session can provide dividends.

The mediation or negotiation process can be very stressful because parties are forced to get to the heart of their differences and come to a resolution.  If you give yourself a mental break during a tough mediation or negotiation session, you may be able to clear some of that stress out of your mind and body. Take a five minute break when the mediator is not around to go outside.  Use the restroom time for a brief mental respite.  Consider bringing meaningless reading material.  There can be something soothing about reading a People magazine.

Being mindful in the moment can also be a mini vacation that can help you.  It can increase your brain power and creativity.  Taking a breather and getting away for a moment can give you some time and space that will result in new ideas, concepts or approaches to what’s keeping the parties apart.

Though a vacation from work may not take you down a path to a less stressed life, a short mental vacation during negotiation or mediation may result in new ideas that will put the parties on the road to a resolution.