Remember when summers included planned vacations with travel, good food, and fun times with friends and family? Now, if I leave my state I need to be prepared to return to an extended period of lockdown and isolation.
The logistics of planning a vacation that is Covid-friendly and that you feel aligns with your level of willing exposure is challenging and enough to make many people stay home. Taking time off is critically important for performance and mental health, maybe even more so now than in our pre-pandemic reality. If your original plans have been scrapped, here are four tips for a revised vacation strategy:
Taking time off is critically important for performance and mental health, maybe even more so now than in our pre-pandemic reality.
- Just do it. Without a big trip on the books, it’s easy to just keep plugging along. But research has shown that failure to unplug can result in decreased motivation for work overall. You don’t have to block of an entire week or two, but at a minimum, take a few long weekends where you aren’t checking in on work at all. If you’re a manager or leader, set this example yourself and then encourage your team members to do the same. If they’re supposed to be offline and are repeatedly joining meetings or responding to emails, give them a friendly reminder to unplug or recommend a “do-over” day.
- Explore your surroundings. The reality is, no one is going very far anytime soon. Depending on where you live, your permitted radius for adventure may be really small. The good news is, there is a 100% chance there is something in driving distance that you have never experienced before. Bonus points if that something is outdoors. According to Harvard, there’s growing research in the field of ecotherapy that shows a strong connection between the time we spend in nature and reduced levels of stress, anxiety and depression. Close the laptop and go for a hike or drive to a nearby body of water and simply enjoy the view.
- Try something new. If venturing out isn’t your thing, give your brain a vacation by trying a new activity or exploring somewhere virtually. You can thank the pandemic for online access to all sorts of museum tours, historical sites and even courses. Always wanted to learn how to bake an inspiring cake for your mom’s birthday? Take beautiful pictures with that camera accumulating dust in the closet? Speak to your grandparents in their native language? There is an online course for anything and everything.
- Document it. It may not be the vacation you wanted or dreamed of, but that doesn’t mean you won’t want to remember it. Take some pictures or journal about what you did, who you did it with and the context of the whole situation. Even better, write a letter to a family member or friend and tell them about it. It’s a great way to stay connected and surprise someone with an unexpected card.
Pre-pandemic, more than half of American workers were leaving vacation time unused with many citing how concerned they were about the mountain of work they’d return to should they take time off. It will be interesting to see how that trend unfolds over this year. Whether it’s a day, a long weekend or a week, take the time to disconnect. Everyone could use a brain break.