PTO, holiday, vacation, time away, travel, staycation, whatever you may call it, we all crave it. When you’re working constantly, taking a break from the routine is all about your mental health. A staggering statistic showed that 54% of Americans don’t take their PTO. Many of us, myself included, save their PTO for big trips and adventures. Other times, I save a day or two for a three-day weekend. Both come with their challenges, I don’t realllly get a full mental break from what I was doing.
Perhaps things were designed that way so that you couldn’t fully check out of work – but in other places in the world, time off is lengthy and sacred time to truly unwind, relax, and rejuvenate.
I’m going through my own version of a break, which is Maternity leave. I’ve had quite a range of feelings after taking an extended break from my old routine. With summer unofficially kicking off, this article may resonate while you're planning your next getaway!
There are a couple of major lessons I’ve learned to help enjoy the moment and the new pace that taking a break can provide for you:
1. The guilt you feel is a result of change, nothing more. We can associate ourselves with the work that we do daily, and by attaching our worth to it, taking a break can feel like an episode of the Twilight zone. If you find yourself feeling guilty for taking a break, remember that it’s the change that has you feeling dizzy.
2. Your body needs at least 7 days to fully unwind from your daily routine: Now this one is debatable, because it could be more or less depending on your lifestyle. As much programming as you’ve done to your mind, you also do to your body and muscles. Your body is so accustomed to your routine that it carries the stress, tension, and elation of whatever happens to you on at work. Be sure to account any unease on your vacation to the change in routine and how that impacts your body.
3. If you’re feeling anxious, your vacation may not be suiting your lifestyle. If you’re used to constant movement and all of a sudden you take two weeks at an all inclusive with unlimited drinks and food, you might find yourself wanting to go back to work faster to get your body and mind back into the swing of things. This means your vacation may need a little more planning and adventure next time around to keep you feeling invigorated while not focusing on your daily routine.
4. Create an intention for your vacation, but don’t sweat it if you don’t do it: We get excited about creating something for us to do on vacation, whether that’s journaling, spending the flight working, thinking of an answer to life’s questions. Don’t sweat it if you get too caught up in the moment of time off to get to these things. The point of vacation is time away, time to play, to BE with the moment. Don’t worry about your phone, take the time to blink and take a mental photo of where you are instead.
Taking time off doesn’t need to be a huge under taking like maternity leave to be effective. Knowing yourself outside of work is just as important as inside the office. It’s most important that you take time to connect with those around you, and maintain your personal sense of identity.
Got a vacation ritual you’d love to share? Find me on Instagram @leaberrycoaching