There's a delicate balance between the relief of still having a job you're passionate about and the guilt of even thinking about taking some time away for yourself. In a crisis, it often feels like a "Go! Go! Go!" mindset is the standard, with survival being the always present priority.
Getting burnt out is a real possibility! Especially as the weather turns and the calendar starts to progress to a time when most are used to vacationing, it can feel even more like we're missing out—on time with our families, on catching up on that book you bought months ago, on sitting still and enjoying the little things.
I'm here to tell you: It's all right to take time for yourself, and you should—even in this trying time.
Even if you can't travel and have the huge family gathering you might be used to, taking time off shouldn't be looked at as indulgent, but rather necessary for maintaining good mental health.
According to the U.S. Travel Association, Americans left 768 million days of paid time off unused in 2018, with 55% of Americans not using all their paid vacation time. And this was BEFORE a pandemic. Now more than ever, we should be granting ourselves the grace to be the best versions of ourselves, which requires self-care and rest.
We're all aching to travel again and bring travel to others, so get creative at home. Spend time reading up on a destination you always wanted to explore and jot down notes and possibilities for the future. Frame some old photos from your favorite trip. Get nostalgic and watch virtual walking tours of your favorite place you've ever been. Or do what I've been doing when I've felt stressed: Put on the "Ocean Escapes" Spotify playlist in the background. It's literally the sound of waves heard from around the world and succeeds in transporting me to my favorite beach—if only for a moment.
Set boundaries so you can get a truly "out of office" experience. Make sure clients and colleagues know in advance you'll be out so you don't have to constantly wonder, "Is Mr. XYZ waiting to hear back from me?" Remember: To best serve your clients, you have to first serve and take care of yourself. As the popular saying goes: "You can't pour from an empty cup!"
So, go ahead and take a day or two ... Or three.
When you return, your colleagues, clients and mental health will thank you.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Staff Writer for West Michigan Woman.