I love a long weekend (emphasised by italic, bold, underline – obviously) and there’s a good reason why. Long weekends help us to take a guilt-free, fully paid day off work and turn the standard week into a mere 4 days. If you’ve read Andrew Barnes’ “The 4-day week”, then you’ll be familiar with the benefits that this extra time off can have but read on nonetheless! Spending days off work, rewarding ourselves after working hard, can release positive endorphins, especially when spent with our loved ones.
FACT: Time off is important.
It sounds simple, but increasingly employees find themselves not spending their annual leave and relying on public holidays and the annual Christmas break to have time off. Although last year was unique (to put it lightly), 2021 has left a whopping 57% of kiwis nationwide feeling deprived of a holiday. Now, I can be pretty stubborn, but I also recognise how important leave is, so I’ve outlined in my own words the top reasons for taking additional leave and extending (or making your own) those long weekends this year. This is even more important after 2020 saw us all confined to our homes and unable to take breaks or venture out.
How to find a special or when to go? Not the school holidays (if you can). During the school holidays, businesses already expect a flux of families to pass through. You can find the best deals and travel benefits by travelling outside of the school holiday date range. Most travel agents, and airlines will list their deals in the lead up to this, so it pays to plan in advance.
Increase your experience of work.
Let’s face it – we spend a lot of time at work. Hours, weeks and years of our life go into the businesses whom employ us, and so it’s important we take care of ourselves. Like any healthy relationship, personal time is essential and this can be applied to work. Spending time away and refreshing is essential to help you value and appreciate what you have and to be fully capable of giving YOUR 110%. Spending too much time at work, with no time off leads to resentment and a build up of thoughts and feelings which we can often associate with work. You need to take time to go do other things that you love, and put your wellness front of mind! Plus, speaking from experience, spending too much time at work with no breaks can lead to a sense of exhaustion which we associate with brain drain. It’s essential to find that sweet spot in the work-life balance and use it.
By having an active life outside of work, you’ll increase your happy experiences while at work.
Mindfulness is one of those topics that is increasingly brought up, and rightly so, as it’s very important! Being mindful of your actions and surroundings helps to benefit you by keeping things in perspective and keeping your opinions objective. Mindfulness allows us to separate ourselves from our surrounding and step back from whatever is weighing on our mind, be it stress, anger or something else altogether. It is a proven and essential technique to controlling mood. When we spend too much time without a mental and physical break, our capacity to control our thoughts and employ the use of mindfulness can weaken. In taking Annual Leave, you can actually benefit your mental wellbeing by increasing your capacity to process information. Your brain needs time to relax and to switch off from the worries and necessities of work. In doing so, you allow your brain more room to focus when it comes time to focus, and to see things in a more objective manner. The Mental Health Foundation of NZ has some great information and resources you can use, and ways you can find support.
TIP: One method of Mindfulness is the 5-senses technique. This method requires you to stop what you’re doing and identify 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. In doing so, you ground yourself and can reset your perspective.
Find joy outside of work
Work work work work work work. (I think that’s how Rihanna said it, right?) Work is fundamental, and it’s great, but when it’s already consuming most of your week, it’s important to find the joy outside of work also. Taking your annual leave to go experience the wonders of the world, or go relax with family is key to securing this balance. On average we spend about 40 hours a week at work, give or take depending on your job, but the mental capacity that we allot to work often exceeds this. Whilst we can take small steps to fix this, such as switching off emails and calls outside of work hours, we also need that much needed Annual Leave to keep us churning along.
PRO TIP: Studies have shown that anticipation for future events and opportunities is a great fuel to keeping our mood elated and our minds focused. Having a regular weekly activity – i.e. a pottery class – is a great way to keep the suspense going, and have some variation in your week. Similarly, having Annual Leave regularly booked is a great way to keep your mood elated, and your mind looking forward to that break!
Planning your next holiday and Annual Leave can have up to EIGHT weeks worth of positive endorphins.
Planning that trip will boost your mood.
Studies have shown that the biggest boost of mood comes from planning your holiday. The countdown and wait for the holiday is essential also as it’s a stimulated and long burn of positive endorphins. We feel the effect of this up to EIGHT WEEKS prior to going on the actual holiday, so if you have a constant rotation of holidays planned, you’ll be setting yourself up for success! Plus, with border openings just around the corner at the time of writing this blog, the anticipation of being able to travel properly once more is sure to boost your mood!
Get rid of that general fatigue
You know that fatigue that just.. exists? That fatigue that, no matter how much sleep you get, seems to hang around from the repetition of your routine? Well that’s what I’m talking about here! Taking the time to mentally switch off and forget work for a few days is so important, and helps you keep things in perspective! When it comes to fatigue, it can be exhausting (ironically) and it can prevent you from having the capacity to exercise or look after yourself. Taking your Annual Leave and taking the time to rest and recover will help you reset and benefit other areas of your life also.
Find zen, reduce stress
Need I say more? Stepping away from your desk, switching off those emails and swapping the morning WIP for a cocktail by the pool or book by the fireplace, is as soothing physically as it is mentally. You know the time-old saying that “My body is a temple”? Well, this is where that applies. By mellowing out and focusing your energy into improving YOU, you’ll instead allow your mind to relax and forget the qualms of work for a time. This is great for helping you keep and create fresh perspectives and lets you put your best foot forward in all scenarios.
Hungry for more recruitment tips and tricks? Check out our blog for more insider knowledge!