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The Importance of Vacations to Well-Being During Times of Uncertainty

With the current state of events (ahem, pandemic), most of us continue to work partly or fully from home. While that’s really great for reducing commute time, and the need to always wear your best clothing, it has made it quite difficult to separate work from our personal lives. There is no separation of your […]

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With the current state of events (ahem, pandemic), most of us continue to work partly or fully from home. While that’s really great for reducing commute time, and the need to always wear your best clothing, it has made it quite difficult to separate work from our personal lives. There is no separation of your physical work location from where you live – the lines between personal and professional are blurred more than ever before. 

This has resulted in a very interesting outcome. Many of us work more hours than ever before. There are fewer extracurricular activities during the day, such as going to grab coffee with a co-worker or heading out to team dinner, or even simply walking across the building to a meeting. Which means that we are head down and staring at that computer screen nearly all day.

For some, the dream of working from home forever is ideal and they’ve seen some benefits from it. For others (like me), they’re missing daily interaction with their co-workers on a face-to-face basis. Whatever the case, the lack of real human connection can be difficult for us all. 

To top it all off, the daily stress of having to deal with the constant barrage of bad news thrown at us and the resurgence of national attention on racial inequities in the US, it’s no wonder that stress continues to be on the rise. I see it with my team, my family, and my friends, and I’m sure you’ve seen the same.

You Need a Vacation

So by now we know that most of us are generally operating at a higher level of stress than ever before. One way to combat this? Take a break! If your experience is anything like mine, you’ve likely noticed that your co-workers simply aren’t taking breaks / time away like they used to. I think this stems from the fact that many of us feel strange taking a break if we don’t plan to go anywhere.

Now, this problem is certainly not as challenging as it was when things first went south, but America has had a “taking vacation” problem for years now. So it’s probably safe to say that if you’re reading this, yes YOU need a vacation!

The Benefits of Signing Off

Whether you actually go somewhere or not, taking time off allows you to focus on less problems throughout the day. Instead of keeping your focus on the variety of things you have going on at the job, you can pivot to just the things you love (personally) for a bit. Believe it or not, you’ll find that when you do go back to work that your mind is sharper and you may even start to enjoy work more.

Relatedly, you’ll find your personal stress levels go down and that you feel happier when you take a break. There really is nothing like taking time to just focus on “you”.

Taking Your Vacation

So now that you’ve decided that you WILL take a vacation, what are you going to do? Are you going to take a staycation? Or are you going to actually go somewhere?

Option #1: The Virtual Vacation (aka “the Staycation”)

For those of you staycationing, it’s possible that you may just need time to relax. That might mean planning absolutely nothing and just enjoying your free time. For others, you might want to craft more of a virtual vacation experience.

Some ideas might include: 

  • Taking time to see your own city by grabbing food from a place you haven’t visited before or by walking through a part of town that you don’t venture very often.
  • You could also choose a place to “go” and craft an experience around that. For example, say you planned a trip to Paris this year, but you can’t go now (for obvious reasons). So bring Paris to your home! Craft the trip by buying or making your favorite Parisian treats, listening to French artists, and watching movies or YouTube videos that feature Paris.  Need inspiration? Check out this post for an idea on how to plan a Virtual Vacation to DC.

Option #2: Getting Out the House (Safely)

If you are completely sick of being at your own house, why not get away for a bit? You’d be surprised how many great AirBnbs / home stays you can find nearby – no matter where you live. If you live in the city, why not get out to the suburbs for a bit (and vice versa?) What’s great about venturing out is that by changing your surroundings, you can help get yourself thinking about new/ different things. In turn your mood may improve, as well as your creativity.

When venturing out, just remember to stay safe! Please follow local guidelines for safety and stay socially distanced. One of the safest options you have at this time is probably camping – great for spending some time in nature and getting some fresh air.

In Summary…

…you need a vacation. So whether you stay home or get out a bit, remember to take some time for yourself. Your mind and your body will thank you.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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