In today’s economic times, hard work and long hours seem to have become the norm, rather than the exception. Of course, working hard is important – we all have bills to pay! But taking leave might have more of a positive impact on our wellbeing and overall performance than we realise.
Unfortunately, emotions like guilt, stress, perfectionism, fear (of even more work on your return or perhaps your boss realising they can do without you) are things that often hold us back from putting in for leave and taking the time we need, for ourselves.
What we don’t realise is that the psychological benefits of taking a regular break from your everyday routine far outweigh any reward that might come from being tied to our desks, day in and day out.
The benefits of taking a holiday
Holidays allow us to get away from all the routine “noise” in our heads, to refuel our tanks and to reconnect with our partners, our children and our selves.
Anecdotal research shows that people who take regular breaks are happier than those who don’t. Ever heard of happiness anchors? Well, holidays serve as “anchor points”, allowing you to make memories and strengthen family bonds that will last a lifetime.
But more than that, holidays allow you to experience life beyond the day-to-day. They broaden your perspective, expose you to the unknown and, as much as they’re considered a time for relaxation, they’re also a time of discovery and exploration.
Going on holiday:
- Broadens the mind
- Improves creativity at work
- Encourages out the box thinking
- Develops creative problem solving
- Restores ability to focus and think clearly
- Increases emotional resilience
- Boosts health and wellbeing
- Decreases absenteeism
- Positively affects work performance and productivity
- Refreshes energy levels and motivation
- Decreases levels of stress and exhaustion
- Increases levels of happiness and satisfaction
In fact, if you’ve been concerned about what your boss might think if you dare to take a few days off, then perhaps it’s time to reassess your thinking – it’s obvious that taking a holiday is good for everyone!
So how often should you take a break?
Well, as with most things in life, it comes down to your personal situation, so take a look at these suggestions and see what you can fit in to your life.
Every six weeks:
If you’re not in a position to get away for an extended holiday, try to take a long weekend every six weeks at least. Remember, you don’t necessarily have to go away on holiday to experience the benefits of taking a break – there’s much to be said for the humble stay-cation too! Simply being able to disconnect from work and reconnect with family and friends does wonders for our sense of personal wellbeing. Explore your neighbourhood, go for a walk on the beach, watch the sun go down, read a book and relax. Of course, if you can afford it, a change of scenery does work wonders, leaving you feeling refreshed and recharged.
Every three months:
In South Africa, we’re guaranteed a minimum of 15 days annual leave a year, but with some clever planning around our ample public holidays, you could really make the most of your time off and enjoy an extended getaway every three months! Studies have shown that the ideal length of a holiday should be at least a week (preferably a full eight days) in order to allow time for travel, a day or two to get over the initial guilt of being away from work and a few precious days in between to decompress and make the most of your break.
Once a year:
A lot of people tend to view the end of the year as the ideal time to recover from 12 months of hard work, but saving your leave for December is not necessarily the best option. Unfortunately some industries only shutdown over December/January, so if that’s the case for you, be sure to take a mini-break whenever possible (don’t forget those public holidays!). It’ll help keep your tanks topped up and your head above water until you can take the break you deserve at the end of the year.
Make every day a holiday
There’s no doubt that people come back from holiday calmer, happier and more energised than before. Less stressed, you’re likely to feel as if you can take on the world in those first few days back! Of course, the holiday high does tend to fade after a few days, so how do you keep that feeling as long as possible?
Make every day a holiday! Go for a walk or read a book in the park during your lunch break, take the kids to the beach after work, kick a ball around the garden or find something new and exciting to do together as a family over the weekend…it’s all about bringing those little moments of joy and discovery into your everyday lives. Enjoy!