Are we becoming a “No Vacation Nation”?

We are currently at the peak of the holiday season, but instead of drinking cocktails on the beach, hiking the mountains and enjoying what life has to offer, a surprising number of people are reluctant to take time out from work. In the UK, two in five employees have taken less leave in recent years since the pandemic. An overwhelming majority of UK employees have shortened, postponed or cancelled their holiday time. Another recent study has found that on average 26% of employees have never taken two weeks or more off.

Are we becoming a “No Vacation Nation”?

So what is it? Why do we feel the need to keep holiday banked and not take a decent chunk of time off?

Looking into some research there can be various issues that discourage us from taking annual leave. There is of course the usual suspects – pressure of workload, a manager, a team or the financial benefits to continue to work, job security etc etc etc. However, all these factors point and emerge in our own psychological contract we have with our jobs. While entitlement to annual leave is set out in job contracts, we pay more attention to the psychological contract, unwritten rules that we create for ourselves as employees – things that we deem to be reasonable or unreasonable in the work place. We’ve all heard or even said it ourselves “I’m too busy to take a holiday” That loop of thinking everything will fall apart without you, there’s too much to do, when lets be honest, it won’t fall apart and the work can usually wait, but as humans we psychologically create these barriers. Majority of employees struggle to detach themselves from their work but leaving our holiday time on the table is taking its toll, its essential to employee survival!

Taking time off from work is integral to your well-being, sustained productivity and high performance.

Here are some reasons why you should start planning your next getaway:

  1. Mind – Did you know…Taking time off improves the capacity to learn. When your brain is completely relaxed, it consolidates knowledge and brainpower. The ‘aha’ moment comes when you’re in a relaxed state of mind, that’s why you have your best ideas on a walk, in the shower or on holiday.
  2. Body – Stress raises levels are reduced. Over time, chronic stress can increase your risk of health issues, including heart disease so by removing people from the activities and environments that they associate with anxiety, all that comes with it somewhat drifts away. There are also a whole host of health issues including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess belly fat and abnormal cholesterol levels that can all be reduced through taking time off.
  3. Soul – Going on holiday makes you feel more present and stimulated. When we travel we are usually breaking our normal routine. Time off from work can help interrupt habits that disrupt sleep for example, like working late into the night or checking your phone before bed. The holiday environments you find yourself in can do wonders for the soul. Spending time in natural environments (such as parks, woodlands and beaches) is associated with good health and well-being.

Taking time out for a week to two weeks is enough to recover and experience a boost of positive emotions. Of course this will begin to decline as the time off comes to an end and we get on the hamster wheel of life, but it still offers the break needed to recharge your batteries.

So, don’t be a holiday slacker. Time off is linked to a slew of benefits, including better sleep and improved mental health. So, what are you waiting for? Put the guilt aside and plan your next holiday. Your mind, body and soul will thank you for it.

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