Now that it’s summertime here in the Mid-Atlantic, I find myself doing nostalgic daydreaming about trips to Germany and upstate New York in past years. I long to see museums, go to street festivals, hike in national parks, eat good food, and mix with the locals wherever I am.
I also love to travel because I learn new things about myself, and it puts my work and life experiences into perspective. Those getaways are not to be this year, though, and I’m guessing you’re feeling “cabin fever” by this point too.
So, even though I can’t travel this year, I’m planning to take a week off in August -- no work, just reading good books and watching old movies, maybe going to a local park now and then for a socially distanced walk. Won’t you join me in committing to taking a break this summer, even for a few days? All work and no play makes everyone pretty tired out and cranky.
Here’s why you should consider it. When we take breaks -- yes, extended ones too -- we’re able to return to “the office” refreshed and recharged.
Stress reduction, improved productivity, and better mental health are the most commonly known health benefits from time off from working. And a recent study by the U.S. Travel Association confirms that “avoiding burnout” is the top reason people take time off.
There also are potential financial gains for us for time off. A recent Harvard Business Review article reported that people who “maximize their vacation days on average are 65% more likely to receive a raise compared to 34% that don't fully utilize their vacation days.” (See more at “The Data-Driven Case for Vacation.”)
Given travel restrictions, what creative options are there for taking time off for ourselves this summer?
Take mini-vacations, such as long weekends.
Ask your employer to implement Half-Day Fridays -- and actually take them. Schedule things for yourself with friends or family for part of the time if you find it hard to establish and hold a boundary around that time off. Sometimes having an excuse (“I’m so sorry, I promised my friend we’d go for a socially distanced walk then.”) is valuable.
If you have paid time off (PTO), remember that you’ve earned it and you are entitled to use it. Your workplace also wants you to take this time off, because it counts against their balance sheet if you don’t.
Don’t overlook the value of planning for your staycation. Plan ahead and give your boss and team plenty of notice so they can plan to cover your duties while you’re away from your desk.
Plus, if you lead a team of people at the office, check out these suggestions for encouraging your employees to take time off -- and remember to model the behavior you are asking them to show.
Bonus: “With Travel Plans in Flux, Readers Share Their ‘Staycation’ Ideas” from the New York Times
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