It’s 2021. We’re still in the midst of a pandemic, work from home may mean that we never really leave ‘our office’ and we can’t travel. So that means we should skip our vacation, right? Actually, it means that taking a vacation from your job is more important than ever before. “A good vacation grants us what we desperately seek in our work — energizing experiences that fulfill our basic, human psychological needs,” writes psychologist Ron Friedman in the Harvard Business Review. Moreover, working for an extended period without a vacation engenders a host of evils, including worsening mental health, mood swings, decreasing job satisfaction and negative thinking. So, just how important is a vacation?
In these pandemic times, you may feel guilty about taking a vacation at all. You may want to prove to your boss that you can be productive even while working from home. Or you may not want to seem as if you don’t care about your job. However, regular vacations actually improve the quality of your work. Numerous studies show that overwork impedes your productivity and can lead to increased mistakes, illness and accidents. “Athletes were the first to recognize that recovery is an essential part of peak performance,” writes Arianna Huffington, Thrive Global Founder & CEO. Similarly, your performance at your job is more likely to improve when you take annual leave to rest and recover.
Burnout was always a problem. But now, with the demarcations between ‘home’ and ‘work’ being eroded by COVID-19, burnout is even more prevalent. One of the key symptoms of burnout is exhaustion and vacation allows you to address physical exhaustion by catching up on sleep. However, it also allows you to recover from mental exhaustion – a constant barrage of emails, Zoom meetings and phone calls take a toll over time – and vacation gives you the ability to unplug.
As a result of COVID-19, the whole family may be home almost 24/7, but… are you really spending quality time together? If you’re constantly checking your phone to see if that important work email came in, are you really present with your family? Vacations allow you to take a break from the pressures of your job and spend more quality time with your loved ones. True, you can’t hop on a plane and fly to a new country, but you can still plan new and exciting experiences like short drives or hikes. Maybe you can plan activities at home, like a games’ night or a movie marathon.
Vacationing can reduce your risk of heart attack, coronary death, type 2 diabetes and strokes. This remains true even if you staycation instead of taking an exotic trip. So, limited travel does not mean a vacation has limited benefits. And vacations also improve your mental health. Time spent away from your job can leave you feeling calmer, while also lowering stress levels and increasing creativity.
Whether we’re in the middle of a pandemic or not, remember that your wellbeing remains a priority, and unhealthy practices like overworking can have long-term negative consequences. If you haven’t yet booked any vacation for the year, why not have a conversation with your partner or family about a good time to take some leave? And then do it! Schedule that time off. You’ll be making an investment in your physical and mental health, productivity, relationships and happiness.