Don’t let work hi-jack your holiday. Not all stress is bad, yet it is never intended to be experienced 24/7! Chronic stress, without recovery, depletes energy reserves which leads to burn-out. Therefore the importance of taking a proper break and “switching off” is vital
Here are a few reminders of the advantages:
- Re-energized and a new perspective
- Increased productivity and thinking
- It makes you calmer – taking a break from the “survival mode living”
- A more resilient and healthier you
This equals to having the energy and vitality needed to excel in your professional environment. After a year where we all have been behind computer screens a lot more, we need to master the skill to switch-off from work.
Why is this so challenging?
In this world of interconnectivity, it is so easy (sometimes too easy!) to connect to our work. On the one hand, technology enables us to have the freedom required for remote/flexible working but on the other hand, we need to be mindful, “switch off” and stop wanting to check-in at work.
For some, it is especially difficult to switch-off when your colleagues or manager, in other parts of the world continue to work while you are on your holiday. As an entrepreneur, I can relate to the temptation of having to “check-in” on work – it is easy to find good reasons to give in to this urge.
When you find it difficult, I encourage you to look at the belief or previous experience that is driving your behaviour. It might be that you believe ‘a good employee is always available’ (even during holidays) OR your manager questions your loyalty when you are not available. These are examples of the different lenses through which we view the world and become the beliefs and worries that drive our behaviour.
You can choose a different response by consciously deciding what you want to do when you are on a break. Permit yourself to take a well-deserved holiday without interruptions.
Here are some guidelines to set easy boundaries for yourself to support you during the holiday period:
- Consciously decide to be present – the whole time.
- Don’t spend hours on your laptop. If an idea or to-do item pops into your head, jot it down in a handy notebook or the notes app on your phone, then handle it later.
- If you have to check-in on something, set a limit, for example, 15 minutes a day. See if there are pending queries or emails that need an urgent answer. It is also best to decide that you will “not sort out issues” but will acknowledge that you are aware of them and by when you can resolve this.
It is important to also prepare for your holiday with your work in mind:
- Be proactive: Before your holiday, discuss and agree on a backup plan with your manager.
- Craft a helpful “Out of Office” reply.
- Steer away from taunting hashtags like #SoGladImNotAtWork and #NeverGoingBack on social media.
- If you are part of a team, agree upfront that, should there be a crisis, a WhatsApp or a phone call will be the way to go.
Leadership… and the burn-out issue
In this age of burn-out, leaders have an even bigger role to play ,managing burn-out especially when their teams are going on leave.
Burn-out is a condition that’s officially recognized by the professional health community. It relates to chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It can lead to a feeling of energy depletion and exhaustion, impatience and irritability, and snapping at family, team members or at clients.
Leaders need to have a discussion with their teams to ensure they have done a proper handover of projects for them to make the best of their holiday break. You also need to set the example. If they start seeing emails coming through on their phones on non-business critical stuff, they too will feel obliged to respond.
High performers know when to rest
High performing individuals understand that there should be a balance between stress (energy expenditure) and recovery (energy renewal). They are aware that being in “survival mode” is a red flag for any individual. Think of an athlete who needs to rest and take recovery time during “off season”. Any individual, especially high performers or “corporate athletes” , need a proper break to replenish their energy. This is step one. Secondly, they then create positive habits and boundaries to sustain these recovery periods throughout the year.
Another long weekend in June will give you a new opportunity to set these boundaries!