Daytripping: 4 Reasons You Need A Day Off To Be Your Best At Work
This summer you don’t have to plan an elaborate vacation abroad befitting an Instagram feed in order to reap the benefits of time off.
A day off here and there away from the office will do; it’s also easy on your debit card. Instead of staycation, venture out for a daycation.
Why? Because you need it.
Brigid Schulte, author of “Overwhelmed: Work, Love & Play When No One Has The Time” and the director of the Better Life Lab at the New America Foundation, tells Starre Vartan in CNN, that “those who don’t take time off are ‘sicker, less productive, stressed, and more anxious and depressed—that affects your work as well.’”
Schulte tells Vartan, that “it behooves managers, CEOs and leaders to create systems that prioritize a culture of vacation. Requiring workers to take time off or including vacation planning as a part of performance reviews are two ways to make sure time off is used—all of which will benefit the bottom line.”
While many people refer to a day off here and there as a “mental health” day, that notion has solid research behind it.
“A growing body of scientific evidence explains what many of us have learned from unpleasant experience: Push yourself through too many hours or days of work and your brain starts to push back. Ideas that once flowed easily dry up, and tasks that you should be able to perform quickly become excruciatingly difficult. You need to give your brain, and yourself, some rest,” writes Minda Zetlin in Inc.
“In one experiment, members of a five-person consultant team were instructed to take one day off every week. In another, executives accustomed to working every evening were told to keep one evening work-free. Though they were reluctant to try it, fearing work would pile up during the breaks, participants actually loved the schedule. Months later they reported better work-life balance, which is hardly surprising,” Zetline writes.
Other research reinforces the idea that taking vacation days makes for happier employees.
According to Project Time Off’s State of The American Vacation 2018, “Employees spending more of their vacation time traveling may also be more successful when they are in the office. More than half (52 percent) of mega-travelers reported receiving a promotion in the last two years compared to Americans who use some (44 percent) or little to none (44 percent) of their time to travel.”
According to the report, “Mega-travelers also report a higher likelihood of receiving a raise, bonus, or both than homebodies. Employees who shared they use little to none of their vacation time for travel were five percentage points less likely than those who use all or most of their vacation time for travel to report a raise or bonus in the last three years (81 percent to 86 percent).
Play by the rules. “Organizations are not legally required to provide vacation, paid or unpaid, for employees. They are legally obligated to provide time off from work for family leave. If you’re not sure what vacation time you have coming, check with your employee manual, manager, or Human Resources department,” writes Alison Doyle in Balance Careers. “If your company doesn’t offer vacation pay as a benefit, or if you have used all your paid vacation, you can still ask for time off. If you need more than a few days off due to illness, injury, or family issues, consider asking for a leave of absence or family and medical leave.”
Plan ahead. After you clear the day off, give your coworkers, managers and clients a heads up that you will be out for the day, maybe as far ahead as two to eight weeks. Be sure it is not a day when there is a big meeting or project due. Meet your deadlines before, keep that day open and free of responsibilities. You are not going to do conference calls remotely or answer emails. You are taking 24 hours off from work to refuel and refresh. Now plan what you will do and map out a destination that is one to two hours away by car, train or bus. You don’t want to go farther than that as you also have to return the same day. Plan what you will do there—visit a museum, the beach, a park, take a hike, have lunch or dinner at a restaurant that has a great reputation. “Challenge yourself to get creative about where you can stay. You don’t have to stick to the traditional trips, like the beach or a big city. Consider going somewhere smaller or doing something totally new. National park admissions cost very little compared to the big resorts,” writes Rachel Cruze in Fremont News.
Carpe diem and enjoy it. “Spend at least a portion of the day unwinding in constructive and effective ways. Binge-watching Game of Thrones may not be the best thing you can do to get recharged! Consider going for a walk, catching up on errands that will make your life easier, resting up and eating well. Enjoy the company of family and friends, or spend the day solo. The important part is knowing yourself and doing the things that will recharge your batteries,” writes Natalia Autenrieth in Top Resume. “Spend your time off in ways that boost your energy, nurture your spirit, and give you the space to recover and get back to work. Use these tips, and you will arrive at the office bright-eyed and brimming with fresh motivation to get things done!”
Realize your work will be better because of the break. “Self-care is, in fact, a critical component of sound mental health, says Alison Ross, a psychologist in New York City and an adjunct associate professor of psychology at City College of New York,” writes David Levine in US News & World Report. Ross tells Levine she defines self-care as ‘taking a few moments on a regular basis to check in with oneself, to take stock of how they’re doing emotionally and physically. Are they exhausted? Overwhelmed? Burned-out? Stressed out? Completely depleted? Many people don’t do this in an ongoing way; they just go, go, go with regards to their work life and their home life, and this contributes to feelings of unhappiness, resentment and a sense of hopelessness about being on an endless treadmill they can’t get off of.”
Remember that most Americans avoid taking time off, but you don’t have to be one of them. According to Project Time Off, “Fifty-two percent of employees reported having unused vacation days at the end of the year. Additionally, 25 percent of American workers took zero vacation days in 2017.”
According to Ross, “Also, in my view, the short-term gains from giving oneself a break – even if it’s one day out of the office – can make a big difference in terms of reestablishing a better sense of well-being.”
About the Author
Michele Weldon is editorial director of Take The Lead, an award-winning author, journalist, emerita faculty in journalism at Northwestern University and a senior leader with The OpEd Project. @micheleweldonwww.micheleweldon.com