Why Skipping Vacation is Not a Good Idea
With all of the travel restrictions, social distancing guidelines, and the inability to do many of the fun activities that you enjoy like going to concerts, sport games, movie theaters, why would you bother taking a vacation?
I love traveling, but given the increase in cases in California, I decided to take a one week 'staycation'. It was extremely relaxing and recharging. I was tired and stressed out given the increase of work and all of the bad news from the past months.
Some people are taking short trips, going camping, and finding alternatives to rest and enjoy quality time with loved ones. Skipping vacation is not an option, here is why:
1- You deserve a break and it will benefit your career
Research proves that periodical breaks for resting and engaging in different activities increase your productivity at work. This year you need a break more than ever as you are probably working longer hours, dealing with more challenges to achieve goals, and having a harder time to balance work and life with kids at home requiring attention. Returning to work after my one week break, I have felt more productive, creative and energized. My relationships have improved as I am more mindful and less stressed.
2- Your family and loved ones deserve to spend quality time with you
The technology that has shortened distances and provided the flexibility to work remotely, has also negatively affected personal relationships. Vacation is a great opportunity to disconnect from e-mail, social media and other distractions, and be fully present with people who are important in your life, even if you can just talk to them over a video call right now.
3- Your team will benefit from having additional responsibilities
Regardless if I travel or not, I take vacation seriously. I close my computer after setting up my out-of-office response, remove all notifications from my phone, and I just log in again when I'm back to work. That means that I need to delegate all of my responsibilities to my team.
I had the best opportunity to develop leadership skills in the beginning of my career, when my manager went on vacation and trusted me to be his replacement. I had the opportunity to lead the team on important projects, working directly with senior leadership, clients and partners.
I know that if I reply to e-mails or join calls during my vacation, I am not only preventing myself from recharging (back to reason 1), but I am also not giving the opportunity for someone to step outside of her comfort zone and develop skills that will benefit her career and the team.
4- A change in scenery will improve your mood
Yes, you can change the scenery even if you stay home. I start by removing my home office setup in my living room, every Friday, not only when I am on vacation. During my staycation, I did things that I normally don't do - walk on the beach instead of the sidewalk and get my feet wet in the cold water, meditation in nature, and hiking in parks full of redwoods. I stayed outdoors for longer than usual and also focused on my wellness - morning ritual, home workout, new plant-based recipes, and a new beauty routine. If you are not able to explore new places, you can see your hometown through a tourist lens and discover new areas.
5- You will prevent a burnout and preserve your mental health
You know that you are close to a burnout if you are physically and mentally drained, less interested in work, and other activities that you used to enjoy. It can affect your relationships, decrease your productivity and energy to focus on self-care and, sometimes, degrade your health. Burnout is usually associated with excess of work and stress aligned to it, but it can also be related to other areas of life, like parenting, care-giving, and dealing with a crisis in a romantic relationship. Quarantine has imbalanced all of these areas in life.
Prior to taking time off I was very close to a burnout - early morning meetings had affected my sleep habits, impacted my exercising routine causing a negative mood, decrease in work motivation and overall happiness. I knew it was time for a break when I noticed my stress was hurting my relationships and my health.
Taking vacation and completely disconnecting from work was reinvigorating. By refocusing on a positive and gratitude routine and on my personal projects that bring me joy I could recover my physical and mental balance.
If you have not taken time out this Summer, you still have time to do so!