Summer is finally here, and with it comes the eagerly anticipated summer vacation. Are you daydreaming of that post-vacation glow? We all know that taking time off of work is good for us and our employees, with benefits ranging from a greater likelihood of promotion to lower stress levels and elevated happiness both at work and home.
But we aren’t always able to get away. A mind-blowing 52% of U.S. adults had leftover vacation days at the end of 2017. We’re living in a 24/7, “always on” world, causing employee burnout to skyrocket. Fear not: There’s still a way to make sure you and the employees you support feel rejuvenated by using your weekends wisely.
Going on vacation doesn’t always have to mean taking a long flight, turning on your “out of office” email reply and sipping margaritas on a tropical beach (although that does sound lovely). Instead, “vacation is a state of mind” says Robert Glatter, M.D., an assistant professor at Lenox Hill Hospital. “A vacation simply requires you to remove yourself from your normal daily activities and create an alternative plan that cultivates a new state of mind. Sure, a new location may help, but just taking a break from normal work activities may slow you to escape to a new reality.”
With that in mind, use the following tips to help your employees redefine how they look at the weekend so they can have that post-vacation glow every week. Your goal? To help them leave on Friday ready for rejuvenation and walk into the office on Monday feeling like they’ve had a break. You can encourage them to tap into these benefits every weekend, and you can also do the same yourself, by reframing how you spend your weekends.
Vacation Vibe Tip #1: Embrace Spontaneity
Research has found that being spontaneous can boost our productivity, mental health and happiness. If you’ve heard people say they’ve always wanted to try something new, whether it’s a nearby hike, a pottery class or a massage, encourage them to wake up this Saturday and do it. It’s not about travelling far but pulling up your GPS and visiting that spot you’ve been wanting to go for ages. Think, “Spontaneity is the spice of life.”
For bonus points, encourage employees to share the activity with someone special to them. Sharing joyful experiences increases joy.
Vacation Vibe Tip #2: Explore the Outdoors
Going to any type of green space — from the soccer field to watch your kids play to visiting your nearest coast for the day — can significantly boost your mood. Why not inspire your employees to “become one with nature” to recharge?
Here’s a warning: It doesn’t work if you’re looking down at your phone while you stroll. Switch on airplane mode or, even better, leave it at home. Doing so will help you stay in the moment and take in your surroundings once you’re outdoors.
Vacation Vibe Tip #3: Listen to Your Body
Harvard research reinforces that the benefits of sleep are endless, yet Arianna Huffington’s 2014 book “Thrive” reported that more than 30% of people in the U.S. and U.K. don’t get enough sleep. Huffington draws on copious amounts of research showing that sleep deprivation lowers our attention span, focus and memory and negatively affects our self-esteem, emotional intelligence and empathy. We also know that when driving, the effects of sleep deprivation has mirror those of drinking alcohol.
What’s the lesson here? They may need some more “Zs,” so encourage employees to pull up the covers and give themselves that extra hour to rest. If they’re feeling energetic, there are still huge benefits to getting that workout in — or perhaps a combination of more sleep and a sprinkle of exercise will work best for them. It’s all about being in tune with what our body is craving and adding a little dose of self-care to rejuvenate during the weekend.
If the idea of 52 vacations per year is appealing, why not share these tips with employees ahead of this weekend? It’s in your power to encourage them to embrace this mentality. Better still, why don’t you take your own advice? Pull up your calendar and book something right now — from an outdoor activity to a nap. You’ll see the benefits for your teams and for yourself.