Are you the type of person who looks forward to the next holiday on the first day back from the last one? Or, do you find it hard to switch off and spend your time off checking and responding to work emails? Perhaps you worry so much about whether your work will be picked up while you are away that you end up putting off holidays and stay in the office instead?
If you feel anxious about taking your annual leave, you’re not the only one. Recent research by Hilton revealed that over 25% of Brits in full-time employment don’t use their annual leave with over a third (38%) stating that work pressures stand between us and time away from the office. We know from our own research that 33% of employees regularly work overtime, meaning we’re all in desperate need of time away from our desks and holidays are the best way to help you recharge your batteries.
Whilst many may think that they’re doing their employer a favour by missing their time off, they could in fact be doing the opposite. Whilst working hard will help anyone to get ahead, going through your work on autopilot whilst stressed and exhausted – both physically and mentally – isn’t beneficial for anyone. Learning to check in with yourself will prevent burnout, and the use of annual leave will enable you to disconnect, re-charge and could also improve your productivity upon your return.
A break from the daily grind – whether it’s on the beach or exploring a new city, or even just time off at home to explore local landmarks and museums – will not only benefit your working life, it will undoubtedly benefit your personal life too. Travelling or taking time off can open your mind to new cultures and experiences, improve your physical health or offer you a chance to work on relationships with the people you care about. Even simply turning off your emails and dedicating your time to activities and people you enjoy the company of can allow you to feel refreshed and revitalised.
If a longer break seems out of reach, why not book in some long weekends? Consider taking the occasional Monday or Friday away from work to provide a shorter working week and a longer period for resting. Why not use this time to try something new, visit old friends or simply take time to enjoy things just for you. Investing in yourself and having face-to-face time with friends and family instead of relying on social media will do wonders for your mood.
Learn to switch off
Take a moment and think about all the devices you have access to – from your car to your phone and computer. Have you ever noticed how they all have the ability to hibernate or switch to ‘do not disturb’ mode?
These functions save battery life. If you have too many tabs, apps or files open your device will become sluggish. In this sense, humans are the same. If your body and mind is switched on in ‘work’ mode 24/7, it results in inefficient performance, errors and exhaustion, as well as mood changes such as low productivity, low tolerance levels and becoming more sensitive.
We know from our own research that 40% of employees regularly check emails whilst on holiday, but taking a digital detox can be incredibly refreshing. It gives you time to enjoy life in the ‘here and now’ instead of analysing other aspects of life. It’s never been easier for us to stay connected and receive updates, but it’s easy to forget that this isn’t always the best for your general health and wellbeing.
Take time to do something for yourself
Rest is an important part of maintaining positive wellbeing and reducing stress levels. Therefore it’s essential that employees should always take their full holiday entitlement each year. Research from The London Economic suggests that the average Brit is only able to relax for 11 days a year. This is because many workers use their annual leave to complete chores and ‘life admin’ that they simply can’t do whilst at work. Although it may be tempting to use your annual leave in such a way, this doesn’t give you enough time to rest and re-energise.
For some, a lack of organisation may prevent them from making the most of their time off. Waiting until the last minute to book leave is a risky strategy as many of your colleagues may already have booked their time off.
On the other hand, if you get carried away and use all your holiday entitlement at the beginning of the year, or want to make a holiday longer without taking too many extra days out of the office, plan ahead and book your holidays around bank holidays.
Finally, try not to feel guilty about taking the breaks you’re due. Your holiday entitlement is part of your employment and you earn your allocated days off. Think of it as part of your salary: you wouldn’t give half of that way, would you?
CABA is the charity that supports chartered accountants’ wellbeing. Explore the tools you need to successfully manage your time and the ways this can improve everyday life both at work and at home with CABA’s free online course, ‘Time management and personal planning.’
Laura Little, Learning and Development Manager, CABA