We’re not all going on a summer holiday, but here’s why we should.

Holidays are (literally) the hot topic this week. As we approach the traditional summer holiday period, the majority of parents have already entertained their offspring for several months, often whilst juggling work and surfing the anxiety wave of the COVID crisis.

Yes, we do definitely need a holiday. But there are some people struggling with this concept. Whilst the government has relaxed various travel rules, there are many conflicting issues around whether a summer holiday is what we ‘should’ be doing.

Interestingly, the bigger questions I’m hearing from various groups is not around the safety of travel (that’s a topic entirely of its own and not one for this blog!). The dilemmas that people are bringing to me exist around the morality issue.

“When others have been working on the frontline tirelessly, who am I to take annual leave?”

“But I’ve been home working for months, won’t taking a holiday seem ridiculous?”

“My team has been through so much uncertainty, I can’t possibly take time out.”

“I feel guilty taking a holiday when there has been so much turmoil and suffering from the crisis.”

First, you do not need permission to take a break. You do however NEED to take a break. It’s well noted in science that for athletes (in fact for anyone undertaking regular exercise), the rest day is hugely important for muscle growth, recovery and improved performance. The same applies to your mental health, the brain after all being part of the body.

The guilt some people are feeling is understandable. We have been forced to make huge changes to our way of life during the crisis, and it’s forced us all to evaluate a lot of things. We recently released a checklist to help you understand how this recent period has changed you, you can download this here.

Our perception of what a holiday is may need to adjust to our new values, or to those of the people we live with. Ultimately, taking time away from work and spending it pursuing pleasure - whether that’s walks on the coast, reading books or simply idling the day away, is the ‘rest day’ your mind needs much like the athlete’s body.

And guess what? Your team will not only survive without you (they will!) but will be grateful you took that break. The evidence suggests that taking a break boosts health and wellbeing and positively affects work performance - meaning you’ll be better equipped to handle what’s ahead with a greater sense of calm.

There are a huge number of studies on the effects of taking a holiday.  Although written before the pandemic, this article summarises some of these studies and offers some great insights to the science behind making holidays work.

Ultimately; clear the decks, set your out of office, change your scenery and quash the guilt. Much like not realising how hungry you sometimes are until you eat, you may not realise quite how much you were in need of a holiday until you take it.


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