Take Back Those Vacation Days
By chance, has this last year been difficult? Challenging? Overwhelming? With new work expectations, do you feel like your work-life balance is out of whack? You wouldn’t be alone.
The American Psychiatric Association reported that more than a third of Americans said COVID-19 had a serious impact on their mental health. That is a lot of impact.
Did you know, according to a U.S Travel report, that 705 million vacation days get forfeited annually? That is a lot of fun that didn’t happen. Remember what vacation looked like last year? We even wrote a blog about how to take a staycation!
Many workers are reluctant to take a vacation. They feel too plugged into their work, or that they are indispensable, or worse, they are dispensable and will be replaced if they take a vacation. But you are allotted vacation time, and it is your right to take it. You don’t have to fly to Italy. Just leave your work out of sight.
Whether your office is at an office building, at home, the corner coffee shop, or in a broom closet, you need time away.
Your Work, Your Family, Your Vacation
In normal times, the fact that many Americans don’t use all their vacation time is an unhealthy disservice to everyone. But In post-COVID times, taking a vacation is critical. It’s a time away to de-stress and reconnect with family and friends, which is one of the best ways to improve your emotional well-being.
Research shows that you begin to feel the positive effects just planning the vacation and that happiness can be felt up to eight weeks before your trip.
There are many benefits to going on vacation. Benefits to your employer, to you and to your family. It’s a win-win-win—time to recharge and reset!
Taking your vacation is important because it:
• Reduces Burnout – Job stress will impact your performance, and working from home can drive you to work longer. Burnout is around the corner.
• Improves physical health – Stress is hard on your body, so it makes sense that you can improve your health by reducing it. In fact, the New York Times reported that taking a vacation every two years rather than every six will lower your risk of coronary disease. Think how healthy you’d be if you took a vacation every year.
• Improves mental health – Stress releases the hormone cortisol, which actually changes the structure of the brain. It is a significant contributor to anxiety and depression. Time away from work relieves stress allowing the brain to heal in ways it can’t when under pressure. And don't forget to contact your organization's EAP if your anxiety and/or depression gets to be too much!
• Gives greater well-being – Making time to travel anywhere that work doesn’t follow will improve mood and sleep, and the benefits last up to 8 weeks. You don’t have to go to Italy. Visit a local attraction near you.
If you have children and work from home, then summer is the perfect opportunity to get away and spend some quality time with the family. That is two fewer weeks of the childhood boredom that plagues kids tests your sanity.
No Time? Take a Day
You take sick days when you are sick. You (should) take vacation days when you have them. What time do you take when you feel stressed and frustrated and can barely stand the thought of going to work?
Those are the days you take a mental health day. A day for yourself to tend to your overall health and well-being.
Mental health days are as important as sick days. When you feel overwhelmed, and irritable your performance on the job will suffer, which begins a downward spiral of negativity that is hard to recover from.
Workplaces, though headed in the right direction, have not yet allotted time off for mental health. Using a sick day when you are not sick is generally against company policy.
Find out if your company considers that having a bad attitude is enough of a reason not to come in that day. If so, use a sick day. If not, then get a little creative. Be honest in saying you don’t feel well. Just don’t specify it’s a mental illness rather than a physical illness.
Stress can lead to serious illness. It weakens your immune system, which opens the door for colds and flu.
Spend it Wisely
Your mental health day is all about you. Only you. It’s not a catch-up on the laundry day or clean the bathroom day. It is read your favorite book in bed day or binge watch Netflix day. You can get a massage or take a bath and go back to sleep. Whatever you choose, make every minute count.
Give your brain a break and have a full day of self-care.
The purpose of vacations and other time away from work is to heal your mind and body. Vacations are usually spent doing family activities so that you can reconnect. Mental health days are “just you” self-care days. Either way, it’s time away from work, so you can recover from the day-to-day stresses of the job.
When things get difficult, take the time you need to recharge and reset. The people around you will be glad you did.
When you partner with Ulliance, our Life Advisor Consultants are always just a phone call away to teach ways to enhance your work/life balance and increase your happiness. The Ulliance Life Advisor Employee Assistance Program (a total Well-being Program) can help employees and employers come closer to a state of total well-being.