Getting away from work can be rejuvenating and might just lead to increased productivity

The last couple of years have been stressful and challenging for everyone. Sometimes we’ve had to burn the candle at both ends, especially when working from home. Most of us find it hard to shut down at the end of the day, not to mention that we seem more “on call” than ever.

So as we come to the last quarter of the year, I think it’s important to remind ourselves that taking that time off is ok and good not only for you but for everyone else, too. Companies benefit when their employees are refreshed, recharged, and focused.

Fighting off the guilt of taking time off

A lot of us have an internal battle with guilt when it comes to taking time off. Why is that? Because we don’t want projects to fall behind or for our coworkers to have to pick up the load when we are out of the office. That’s perfectly understandable.

However, let me be clear: when you invest in yourself and your mental health, everyone wins. Chances are your coworkers already know when you are burned out and need to take a break. Continuing to work through the burnout only helps to strain your work relationships with your coworkers. Being self-aware of burnout is something we all have to work harder at remedying. Remind yourself, it is OK to take time off, for my benefit and everybody around me.

Recharge to decrease burnout

Sometimes burnout is inevitable and giving yourself time to “recharge your batteries” is what you need to center yourself once again. It doesn’t have to be a luxurious two-week vacation in the South of France for you to give yourself a break. Although, that does sound amazing! Yet, those types of “bucket list” trips come with their own stress. Think about what you really need to recuperate. Maybe it’s just sitting by a lake for a day thinking your own thoughts?

Sometimes you might only need a day off for yourself in the middle of the week. Maybe work on a project at home that you’ve been procrastinating on because weekends are busy with driving the kids to soccer practice. Take time to play that video game that you purchased a while back and haven’t been able to pick up. Every little bit counts.

Occasionally I’ll remind my wife that she needs to take a day off for herself. She is someone who can’t switch off her brain, so focusing on something other than work—like a project on a day off—can help her to be distracted and, at the end, feel like she accomplished something. I always find Wednesdays a good day during the week to take a day off as it breaks your work week right in the middle. Two short stretches of two days with a rest day in the middle is much easier than one of five, right?

Reconnect with friends and family

Work can also get in the way of our relationships with our friends and family. When you are burned out, the ones who around you regularly are the people who will notice the most.

Now that the holidays are nearing and you’re probably making your plans, you should remind yourself that it’s not just about being with friends and family during this time but to be present in those fleeting moments. Make sure you are nurturing those relationships because those are the people who will lift you whenever you are down. And yes, I’m going to say it—put the smartphone down, that Slack message can wait before you click Enter. Also, let us not forget, once your message has been sent (even during a holiday) your co-workers will feel compelled to respond because they now know you are working during the time off and forces them to feel like they should be too. Stop it! Unless there is an emergency requiring immediate attention, write yourself a note and send the message later! The wise person inherently knows when real emergencies occur. For all other times, remember to be present.

Reflection Time

Recently, I took a trip with my family. During that trip, we immersed ourselves in nature (yeah, that’s that scenery outside the glass windows that are around us all the time, for people like me who get wrapped up in the work of the moment). Smelling the fresh air, listening to the wind blow through the trees. I find those are the times when I can step out of my day-to-day routines and schedules to reflect on my job or career. To think about what I can do to keep moving forward and not get complacent or stagnant.

As a matter of fact, this blog post is an excellent example of this. When we were on that trip, I thought to myself, what else could I do for the company to contribute outside of my current duties? After hearing about our corporate blog in an all-staff meeting and then reflecting during our trip, I jotted a few notes down for myself. This made the thought of coming back to work after our trip easier as I was excited to share my ideas with my supervisor.

I found myself motivated after the trip not only to talk about my ideas but to share with my coworkers the importance of being able to take that time off for myself and my family. I was hoping it would encourage them to take time off as well. So as we wrap up another year, keep in mind that the person you have to take care of first before you can take care of anyone else is YOU!