A few years ago, there was a great article posted by Richard Branson on LinkedIn entitled “Relax, But Don’t Take the Summer Off From Great Ideas:”
According to the entrepreneur, the summer is a great time to take a break – but also when inspiration is most likely to strike. Furthermore, he encourages us to “use the space and time to reflect on the year so far and plan how to improve in the coming months….” But, fittingly, he reminds us that it’s just as important to let your hair down!
Interestingly, the “not taking time out” theory goes against the current opinion, which states that taking a break from work gives you time to clear your mind and reflect, which could ultimately boost your productivity for when you get back.
But the impact of tech has affected all of us. For example, productivity apps have made it nearly inconceivable to flee work life in your free time—even when you’re on the beach. In addition, the pandemic has made an “always-on culture,” with the expectation of forever being open for work, even more harmful by confusing the lines between home and professional life.
Our phones and wifi connections carve us in two: we are here and elsewhere, solitary and with someone else. The irony is these tools, believed in making our daily lives more comfortable, are anything but facilitative to our mental well-being. On the contrary, they keep us on our toes, stressed about missing a person or an opportunity, and reactivate our old fears: exclusion, emptiness, isolation… And rob us of a true cure: living fully in the present moment. In support of the benefits of total relaxation from work, Christine Webber, Psychotherapist with Kuoni and Nuffield Health Charity, conducted an interesting study. She found that blood pressure was reduced, crucial in reducing the chances of stroke and heart attacks. Additionally, better sleep patterns were recorded amongst participants of the study and this, in turn, had positive effects on their immune system. However, even more importantly, it was revealed that these benefits continue well past the vacation – in fact, for months afterwards.
I believe getting away from work and having a total switch off from your professional life is not only necessary and healthy, but it can also have tremendous benefits on your professional well-being. Besides, we get our best ideas, answers and resolutions to problems when our mind is empty, calm and void of all the office noise.
Sometimes when we are away from day to day, we find solutions to problems or think of innovative ways for higher performance. I have to agree as I urge my clients to catch up on sleep, read a new book, and spend time with loved ones …and I “Walk The Talk,” i.e. I practice what I preach!
Furthermore, I have found that my most advanced problem-solving capabilities and business ideas have come when I have been away in a completely different context with other people.
In the ongoing and problematic quest for a balance between private and professional life, we must promote disconnect daily – and throughout the year. Breathing moments and breaks are interchangeable with greater efficiency and better employee mental and physical health.
The freedom to disconnect during the summer holidays is your decision; cultivating this art of disconnection takes preparation and communication before you leave. On an individual or a macro level, switching off supports the organisation’s overall health.
Lastly, I will leave you with a little golden piece of advice I got fifteen years ago. When my eldest son was five ( 22 years ago, yikes!), his teacher told me before the summer holidays not to overload him with summer camp activities and entertain him too much. “Let him be bored,” she said….” it’s important for them and great for their creativity “… And Claire-Lise. Thank you, you were right! Boredom can cultivate creativity in children and adults!
I wish you all a peaceful and serene Summer.