Let’s face it, we all love a holiday! So, why aren’t us Brits taking our full holiday entitlement? According to a YouGov survey in 2015, figures revealed that around 36% of British people don’t take their full holiday entitlement. Reasons varied from wanting to carry over days to the following year (26%), never getting around to taking it (22%) and not having enough reason to take holiday (17%).
Today, many of us are still feeling the pinch after the financial crisis of 2008 – despite being told that our economy is steadily improving. With more and more working families living in poverty, cuts to benefits, zero-hour contracts and many of us being self-employed, there are many reasons why we don’t always take our holiday.
However, taking a break needn’t cost the earth – even a long weekend away with the kids armed with a tent and a camping stove can be enough to recharge those batteries. Allowing for some time away from work not only benefits our mental health and overall wellbeing, it can also improve performance and productivity in the work place – making it a win-win for companies and their employees alike.
Taking a break improves our wellbeing
Having an ‘all work and no play’ lifestyle isn’t good for our mental health and overall wellbeing. Apart from the obvious reason of catching up on some sleep (which shouldn’t be underestimated), a holiday away from everyday life gives our body the opportunity to rebalance itself.
Having a better work-life balance will improve relationships both at home and at work as well as reducing stress and improving our energy levels and productivity.
Making sure we get enough sleep is paramount to good health. We are all guilty of burning the candle at both ends at times just to try and fit in some leisure and family time around our long working hours. However, tiredness leads to poor concentration and decision-making, which can then have an impact on our mental health.
In Britain, more working hours are lost to stress-related problems than any other illness. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in 2016/17, 25.7m days were lost due to ill-health, with 49% being the result of stress, depression and anxiety (figures collected from the Labour Force Survey). Stress produces cortisol in the body and too much of it will eventually make our immune system weaker, resulting in a multitude of illnesses like heart disease and diabetes, to name but a few. So, it’s never been more important to take a break from work – even if it’s just for a long weekend. Your boss might even thank you for it. After all, a happy workforce can only be a good thing.
A change of scenery makes us more creative
There’s been many an artist or writer that has created that masterpiece while away on holiday. Think Ernest Hemingway, whose writing was drawn from the places he travelled to. Taking a break and going somewhere new allows us to see things from a different perspective. Having a conversation with someone from another country will bring new ideas into our minds and broaden our viewpoint. We are able to see that things can be done differently – and still work!
Taking a break is like giving our mind a holiday! Have you ever been in a situation at work where you have spent days trying to solve a problem or write an inspiring piece of copy only to find that you’ve drawn a complete blank? Quite often, once we’ve removed ourselves from the situation and allowed ourselves some time away, the solution appears right in front of our eyes – without even thinking about it! The same thing can be said about going away on holiday. Giving yourself a break from routine and spending time in a new environment or culture can bring with it new ideas and promote creativity once you return to work. Why not give it a go? You might be surprised just how creative you can be!
Be inspired by nature
Nature has the ability to heal our stressful mind and promote good physical and mental health. We are not all lucky enough to have the countryside on our doorstep and our place of work is often a high-rise building plonked in the middle of a large city. So, taking a break to a place that is surrounded by natural beauty can make you feel calmer and ready to face the world of work again.
Nature forces us to slow down and enjoy being in the moment. When we are bogged down by pressures at work, our mind is cluttered and it becomes much more difficult to see things clearly. Having a break in the countryside will enable us to discard those layers of tension and learn what we really want from life. We return feeling less tired, happier and healthier and much more equipped to take on that next big project at work.
Take that break
Whether you’re your own boss or you work for someone else, think long and hard before foregoing all of your holiday entitlement. If you’re a boss, surely, it’s more beneficial to the company to have employees that are fully refreshed, more productive and less likely to take time off with stress?
Travel enriches our lives and gives us the opportunity to think outside the box. We become more open to new ideas that can only enhance our home and work life. Grab the chance to go somewhere new – even if it is just for a weekend. There’s always something to suit all budgets. We often have the idea that kids need to go to expensive holiday resorts or theme parks. In fact, quite often, all they want is a bucket and spade and a day on the beach or a day exploring somewhere new.