If the social media memories popping up on your feed are making you feel nostalgic for a proper summer holiday, you’re not alone. And yet travel restrictions have put many overseas travel plans on hold. Even the prospect of a staycation isn’t a guaranteed back up; demand for UK-based breaks has surged, with some companies reporting booking numbers over 200 per cent higher this year than last. As a result, many of us are putting plans for a much-needed break on hold.
The last year at work hasn’t exactly been relaxing and getting away is an opportunity to disconnect, both mentally and physically, from the rigmarole of our working lives. Without a proper holiday, the risk of burnout is a distinct reality, so how can you make sure you relax properly even if you’re not able to leave home?
Change your mindset
Your attitude towards any time off can dictate the benefit you’re likely to reap from it. Don’t just take our word for it; a study published in the Harvard Business Review found that half of a control group who were told to ‘treat their weekend like a vacation’ were significantly happier than those who had treated it like a normal weekend.
Create your own sanctuary
If you start your weekend by jumping straight into your life admin to-do list, the tone for the weekend is one of work. “We all have tasks that need to be done, however, these tasks don’t have to consume your whole weekend,” says Laura Little, Learning and Development Manager at CABA, the wellbeing charity for Chartered Accountants and their families. Carve out an hour every Saturday morning and devote it to doing something in the present, not on a screen, that is physical and absorbs your concentration, Little advises. Whatever it is, make sure it’s starkly different from your week spent looking at your laptop.
Get outside as much as you can
Nature is a positive force for improving mood, self-esteem, reducing stress and keeping you active – so as much as you’re able to, get outside! To make it feel more like a holiday, consider planning a picnic with friends or family, walking with friends or neighbours, or looking for some activities in your local area which can help you make the most of the outdoors, suggests Rebecca Carter, an HR Expert at MHR International.
Going on holiday should be a drop of escapism. Treat your weekends the same by stepping out of the ordinary and planning something unique to do, Little says. “Discovering what’s on your doorstep or treating yourself to that fancy restaurant you took your visiting friend to is a perfect way to trick your mind into thinking you are on holiday.” Alter your routine so it feels like you’ve had a different week to the last, Carter adds. “For example, if you have a daily walk you incorporate to your schedule, go at a different time of day or for longer, so that you don’t feel like you’re repeating your working from home week without the working!”
Make the mundane luxury
Living life to the full shouldn’t be something reserved for that week or two abroad each year. Nor does it have to break the bank. Think creatively about your everyday hobbies or plans to inject something extra. “It could be as simple as taking your breakfast outside on a sunny morning or, after swimming with your friends, going to the sauna for half an hour before trying a new brunch spot,” Little suggests. Whatever you fancy, make it fancy.
Prioritise social time
It can be tempting to shut yourself away when you’ve got time off work with nowhere to go but prioritise some social time with friends or family where possible, Carter urges. “Humans are inherently social beings and those connections are important to our wellbeing. Spending quality time with friends and family offers a chance to connect, share and gain wider perspective, all of which helps us remain resilient and improve morale when we do return to work.”
Challenge yourself to take time away from your screens when you are not working and set boundaries, suggests Noam Sagi, psychotherapist and co-founder of 58 Wellbeing. For example, charge your phone in a different room at night, put your laptop in a drawer and see how long you can keep your phone out of sight. “This way, picking up your electronics will be a conscious action rather than a habit,” Sagi says.
Plan a Sunday night activity to bat away any Monday blues
Most of us are familiar with that Sunday night feeling when the thought of tomorrow’s to-dos or the itch to get ahead and check your emails kicks in. But Sunday isn’t Monday. Include a ritual into your routine that helps you live in the present rather than thinking about tomorrow. “It could be as simple as a bubble bath, herbal tea outside or watching an episode of your favourite TV show,” Little suggests.
Remember – it’s ok to do nothing
Allow yourself the time to properly switch off and not feel guilty for doing ‘nothing’ – particularly relevant for those who have been working from home throughout the pandemic and whose view of home space and work space may be fused together. Give yourself the time and space to do nothing to allow your brain and body to relax and re-charge.
Better time management can improve everyday life both at work and at home. Check out CABA’s free online course, ‘Time management and personal planning.’
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