Everyone likes time off from work, but there’s a difference between wanting a vacation and needing it to get through another long day at work.
There are a number of travel getaways marketed as vacations to help combat burnout, but the truth is, no vacation will eliminate the chronic work stress that makes you feel burnt out and increasingly exhausted. more disengaged, even on your days off.
In fact, seeing the holidays as a cure for your work worries is a troubling sign of burnout, which can happen even in a job you love.
“Burnout is the result of high and sustained stress. It often comes from work-related stress, but can also be combined with stress from your personal life,” said Shannon Garcia, psychotherapist at States of Wellness Counseling in Illinois and Wisconsin.” It’s the ‘I just need a week off’ mentality that’s usually a sign of burnout.”
Here’s the lowdown on what taking a week or two off can and can’t get you:
It can be a useful break, but a vacation isn’t going to erase all of your work stress and anxiety.
The unique benefit of summer vacation is that it falls in the middle of the year, which makes it a good time to take a step back and reflect on how you feel in general, said Nancy Hanks, partner based at Atlanta at a management consultant. organization.
“It’s a way of taking stock and saying, ‘What have I achieved so far? What am I proud of? … Where have I been most present and absent in my own life, and what changes do I want to make for the rest of the year? “, she said.
But Hanks noted that this reflective pause can only happen if you’re actually able to rest. Hanks said she had a summer vacation that felt more like an escape from work than a chance to relax.
“Dude, I’ve been there. Send by e-mail to [the moment when] the plane starts. You find it difficult to detach yourself from e-mails. People are still contacting you while you’re away. … It’s an escape, trying to escape something that seems awful,” Hanks said. “Compared to when I’m recovering: yes, I’m tired, but it’s more that I’ve had a productive struggle with work and I’m really thinking now about how I need to recharge, so I’ll be back in the next period of that.”
Garcia said the main sign of burnout is when you’re most excited about your vacation because it takes you away from work. “If getting out of the office is more motivating for a vacation than lying on the beach, we might have a problem,” she said.
Research supports this concept. If you’re expecting your summer vacation to energize you for the rest of the year, think again: the post-vacation high you get after a break doesn’t last more than a few days.
Nearly a quarter of working adults in the United States said the energy boost and stress relief they got on vacation disappeared immediately after returning to work, according to a 2018 Harris Poll for the account of the American Psychological Association. For another 40% of adults, the happy holiday mood only lasted a few days after they started working again.
“Websites and magazine articles offer plenty of advice on how to get the most out of time in the office, but often put the blame on the individual employee and ignore important organizational factors,” said David W. Ballard, an organizational consultant who was then the head of the APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence, in a statement on the study.
“A supportive culture and supervisor, the availability of adequate paid time off, effective work and personal life policies and practices, and psychological issues such as trust and fairness all play major roles in how employees reach maximum recharge.”
“Summer vacation is no cure for burnout.”
– Shannon Garcia, psychotherapist
In this way, vacations are only a temporary solution to much larger problems such as unreasonable managers with relentless deadlines or dealing with persistent and traumatic pandemic-related issues at work.
“[A vacation] can certainly give you a well-deserved break and be an opportunity to temporarily reduce your stress levels. However, if you go back to exactly how things were before the summer break, any advantage he had will disappear pretty quickly,” Garcia said. “Summer vacations are no cure for burnout. Burnout isn’t your fault, but it won’t go away unless you do something about it.
If you feel like you’re only living for your next vacation, take steps to rebalance your work and life in a healthier way.
Think of your vacation as a reset button. “Take a vacation and commit to yourself to take small, ongoing steps to combat burnout when you return,” Garcia said.
These steps can include being intentional about how much work you allow to take up your weekend and setting limits on when you can be reached during your off hours.
Challenge internal assumptions that you can only take time off during the summer. A former education administrator, Hanks said she felt guilty for overburdening her colleagues if she was absent when school was in session, as opposed to when it ended. “Inside was a fear that if I took it maybe some other time, something would happen while I was gone,” she said.
But when Hanks had the opportunity to attend a business conference in Nepal in October, friends challenged her assumptions about why she couldn’t go and helped her reconsider. She now recommends people think about what they would need to communicate to managers before jumping straight into the assumption that they can’t take time off. See wHe might be able to cover you, and in return, you might be able to do it for them in the future, she recommended.
If possible, you should also try to plan for the opportunities you have outside of the summer to take time off. “All positions have a cadence, and where could the cadence be more generous in terms of the ability to pull away?” Hanks said.
If possible, take more frequent vacations. It puts less pressure on those big summer vacations to go well. During her time in education, Hanks saw a difference in happiness between teachers who had two weeks off every eight weeks and teachers who had all summer.
“I know for sure that teachers who worked the full year were happier with these more frequent breaks,” she said. “That means not all of the weight or pressure is on a break or vacation.”
Learn how to recharge your batteries on a daily basis, outside of work holidays. “Sitting on your bed mindlessly scrolling on your phone when you get home from work may give you a temporary escape from your stress, but it doesn’t actually recharge you,” Garcia said.
She recommends adding more active forms of relaxation to your schedule. “It could be cooking, walking your dog, dancing to music while you tidy up or gardening. Sure, days spent watching a TV show can be restful. But active relaxation is often overlooked.
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