What’s stopping you from taking a holiday and truly switching off?
If you’re choosing to stay in the office at this time of the year, while others are packing their bags, then you’re being urged to reconsider.
“Imagine your brain is like a computer and you never log off or do a virus check or clean it up — eventually it’s going to get glitches and it’s not going to perform so well.”
That’s the view of Brisbane-based psychologist Christine Bagley-Jones, who wants people to place a higher value on getting out of their daily grind.
“It’s literally time to reboot,” she told ABC Radio Brisbane’s Emma Griffiths.
“You can change habits, thoughts and relationship dynamics as there’s so much that can be achieved on your holidays.”
Clear your head
Ms Bagley-Jones said daily routines often didn’t allow people the time to make lifestyle changes that make them healthier and happier..
“It’s hard to break patterns when you’re in the daily grind, but when you’re away you can get your head clear about what you want to do,” she said.
“If you don’t have opportunities to get outside your normal environment, you don’t get a shift in perspective and you don’t grow.
“While you won’t perish if you overwork, you won’t be living the life you could be living by being away from your normal environment.”
If you want to work hard, you need breaks
Ms Bagley-Jones said many people believed they were too busy for a break.
“They tell me they are too busy or it’s logistically impossible,” she said.
“They believe that there’s not a big enough incentive yet, and I would hate to think the incentive becomes the consequence that they become unwell or their relationships become irreparable.
“If you’re a workaholic you can’t possibly be at your best in your workplace without a break.
“So take the break if you want to be a workaholic.”
She suggested taking a little work with you if it allowed you to get away.
“I don’t see it as a bad thing if you have to take work with you; if that’s what you need to do to get away, then it’s better than nothing.
“Be disciplined with when you use your device — don’t take it poolside, and quarantine the time you check and follow-up on emails at set times.
“Let your workplace know how and when you’re going to respond to matters, and also be very protective over your ability to relax your body and grow your mind.”
Summer break can be short
A break does not have to be an annual three or four-week holiday.
Associate Professor Richard White, author of On Holidays: A History of Getting Away in Australia, said the holidays Australians take now are different.
“The long summer holiday heyday was the 1950s and 1960s; it’s still around today but in altered forms and rarely as long as it used to be,” he said.
“In the 1960s going to a caravan park for four weeks was cheap and a majority of Australians would go off and do very little.”
Ms Bagley-Jones said breaks did not have to be for weeks, they could also be for days.
Caravan parks were popular over the Christmas period in the 1960s. (Flickr: Queensland State Archives)
“You can take a long weekend more often by leaving on a Thursday night and then take a Friday off and come back Sunday night.”
Sometimes, just knowing you have a short holiday coming up can lift your mood and ability to get through work.
“In the lead-up to the break, the hype and anticipation is half the joy and you do get enjoyment from that,” she explained.
The ramifications of no down time
The advantages of taking a break far outweigh the arguments for staying at work, Ms Bagley-Jones said.
It is also worthwhile thinking about what you need to get out of your holiday to make the most of your down time.
“Is it about relaxing poolside, is it about going on an adventure, or is it reconnecting with loved ones and looking forward to growing your relationship with them?
“It’s a good thing to quieten your mind to the point where you feel like you’re doing nothing.
“When you don’t have a plan that’s too solid, you can relax and enjoy the weather while tapping into the aspects of yourself that could benefit from a spruce up.”
She urged holiday-goers to think a little about what they wanted to do, even if it was being by the pool.
“Look at the books you take with you as it could be something to inspire you, or if there’s part of your nature you’re not happy with — read a book to help with that.
“It’s about being efficient with the time off you have.”