Events are canceled, travel is limited, and some of our favorite activities remain unfeasible as the days of the pandemic have blurred into months. With many companies in survival mode, their teams are working longer and harder than ever just to stay afloat. But this pace isn’t sustainable. Many workers haven’t taken a day off since March, and they’re starting to feel the effects of burnout. The importance of self care has become a common theme lately, but when it comes to vacation during Covid, some employees are rethinking their plans.
Guilt, Job Security, and Responsibility
Even before the pandemic, feeling reluctance or guilt is common when it comes to taking time off from work − especially when we feel like our coworkers are depending on us. Now, with furloughs and layoffs threatening job security, many employees might fear they’ll return from vacation to find they no longer have a job.
When organizations are forced to cut jobs, the remaining team members are often left to pick up the slack while maintaining their own workload. The work doesn’t go away just because we do, which means employees can expect to have a pile of catch-up work waiting for them when they get back. These are valid concerns that have many people wondering whether they should − or even if they could − take much needed time off.
Doom and gloom aside, research has consistently shown that vacation time is a critical component to our overall health and well-being, and it’s become even more necessary as we find our way through the cluster that is 2020. Proven benefits include improved productivity, lower stress levels and better mental health across the board. And while “Zoom overload” has been a real struggle for employees, it’s only the tip of the iceberg for most. Your mind needs to reboot to work at its full capacity, and your boss and coworkers want you to be at your best.
Talk with your boss about taking time off. Remember, we’re all experiencing this together and most employers understand the necessity of vacation time right now, so there’s a good chance your your time off request will be approved with advance notice. Once your time off is approved, communicate your vacation plans with your coworkers as far in advance as possible. This will allow your team to prepare for your time off so they can maintain business as usual in your absence. Don’t think of this as an inconvenience on everyone else – you’ve earned it! And your coworkers will appreciate you being at your best when you get back.
Let’s be real: taking your “ideal” vacation is not financially feasible for a lot of people right now. From investments lost in the volatile stock market to the millions of workers left furloughed or unemployed, the pandemic has certainly left its mark on Americans’ finances. And as employment and pay rates have plummeted, stress levels have skyrocketed. Taking time to rest and recover from stress is more necessary than ever, but what happens when those who need it most can no longer afford the vacation they had planned?
Rethink your vacation: the point is to get away from your desk for a few days or more and find peace in something you enjoy. Your favorite five-star resort in Fiji isn’t an option right now, but you still need the rest and recovery! Visiting a state park is a great example of an affordable way to get outside, enjoy the beautiful landscape our country has to offer, and distance your mind from the stresses of life. The National Park Service has a great search feature that provides details for each park.
Expectations for vacation this year should be managed realistically according to your financial position and travel restrictions. It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg; the benefits of taking a vacation – any vacation – will be worth it. Regardless of your finances, the most important thing is to allow yourself to destress and reset, even if it’s in your own back yard.
Travel Restrictions and Safety
Many people are understandably fearful of travelling during the pandemic, while others have continued to live their lives with a “business as usual” approach. Whether you’re playing it safe, taking your chances, or something in between, it’s important to be fully informed before you make the decision to travel.
You should know that travel increases your risk of contracting or spreading the coronavirus. So if you do decide to travel for vacation, be mindful of the risks and take preventative measures to travel safely.
There are a number of travel advisories from the CDC that you should consider before planning an international trip, and it’s important to check the restrictions in the country you intend to visit before planning your getaway. Ultimately, the decision to travel is a personal one that only you can make. Just be sure you are aware of the risks, restrictions, and CDC guidelines for safe travel before you hit the road.
Self care doesn’t require a cross-country road trip or an international flight. Whether you travel abroad, spend a week exploring the sights in a neighboring state, or just take a couple of days to relax outside at your local parks, take time off and take care of yourself.
This summer, it may feel more difficult than ever to take a break from work. But not taking a break now will most certainly lead to burnout, and the results won’t benefit you or your company. If there’s anything that 2020 has taught us, it’s that life is unexpected. Take some time for yourself and find the small joys where you can. While you may feel some guilt at first, you’ll come back refreshed, recharged, and ready to get back to work − everyone wins!