After an entire year of what feels like Groundhog Day, many of us are finally ready to dust off our suitcases and hit the road. Plus, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Taking a vacation is more important than ever since nearly half of U.S. workers experienced mental health issues since the pandemic began. But are you among the thousands of American workers taking a guilt trip instead of a vacation? Julie, a young executive from Chicago, went to the Big Apple for a long weekend. A friend asked why she hadn’t planned to stay longer. “I wish I could, but my boss frowns upon us being out of the office for more than a few days,” she said. “I used to not take any vacations until I discovered that short trips and long weekends work best. I don’t want management to think I’m a slacker. Lazy feet don’t eat.”
Julie is not alone. A new study by OnePoll on behalf of Learn to Live, found that 62% of Americans are afraid to take time off, worried that corporate honchos would judge them. You can read more about fears of taking time off here. Many employees say they are afraid they’ll be perceived as a slacker, get passed over for job promotions or that someone might be angling for their job. Another 47% of American workers, like Steve, say it’s too stressful to plan a big getaway. Getting behind and never getting caught up often drives his fear of taking time off: “I have to get ahead of my workload in order to leave, and I have to work doubly hard when I get back,” he said. “I’m worried the whole time I’m gone because I’m getting behind, and it’s not worth the stress.”
Planning Your First Post-Pandemic Vacation
On many levels—national, corporate and individual—we’ve been through a lot this year, most of us quarantined and working from home during the pandemic. If you’re like many people with cabin fever, you’re itching for a change of scenery and could use a getaway, and planning a vacation has never felt more liberating. Yet for many, leaving the house for the first time in months is bringing about some extra stress. Evernote has a step-by-step guide to help you tackle your first post-Covid vacation:
- Create a travel notebook. Kick off your travel notebook by researching your dream destinations and keeping your findings—from photos and blogs to simple notes—into Evernote’s Travel Inspiration template. Take advantage of the app’s Web Clipper to save information that captures your imagination.
- Book flights and arrangements. Before your book your flights, hotels and other accommodations, set up email forwarding to gather your confirmation numbers and receipts in Evernote. If you already use Evernote’s Frequent Flyer template, check out how many airline points you may have waiting for you.
- Build your itinerary. Seasoned travelers know that planning ahead ensures every day of your trip is an adventure. After web clipping your top choice museums, restaurants, hikes and other experiences, keep track of it all in Evernote’s Travel Calendar template. Get familiar with Evernote’s receipt scanner ahead of time to stay on top of budgeting during your trip.
- Get organized. In the days leading up to your trip, make sure you’ve uploaded digital copies of your passport, vaccination card and other key documents into Evernote. Once you finalize your Evernote travel notebook (complete with confirmation numbers, itineraries and all), share it with your travel companions for top-tier coordination.
- Enjoy. Get out there! If you feel inspired during your trip, jot down your favorite memories and moments into your travel notebook.
Tips For Your Next Micro-cation, Stay-cation or Day-cation
If a full-on vacation is too stressful or makes you feel guilty or worry about being too far away so soon after the pandemic, consider a stay-cation, day-cation or micro-cation—a leisure trip shorter than four days. By all means, take a leisure break that works best with your interests and your lifestyle. And unplug from the office now and then even if it’s just for a day or even a few hours.
If it’s too stressful to catch a plane or travel long distances by car, sometimes a stay-cation—vacationing at home—is the least expensive, most relaxing and fun vacation of all. Make sure you unplug from your usual household routines, though. It’s important to spend your time engaged in different activities around the house that you enjoy but never get to do, such as gardening or a special hobby. Make sure even if you “stay” that you’re still “away.” Choose a colleague you trust to manage day-to-day tasks during your absence (even though you’re home, you’re still absent), making sure co-workers know you’ll be “away.” Designate a point person to be contacted on your voice mail and out-of-office email only on matters you want to be bothered about.
Consider a day-cation—a trip to a fun place in your own state where you’ve been itching to go but haven’t had time such as a hike in a state park, river rafting, a tour of a local zoo or a picnic at a local lake or state park. Outside activities in less populated and open-air areas can mitigate worries of contracting the Covid virus. Plus just being outside in nature is itself a form of stress reduction and relaxation.
If you decide to take three to four days off, check out special micro-cation deals. Some worldwide hotels and resorts have begun to cater to micro-cationers with special deals and packages for three or four night getaways. Kill two birds with one stone by turning special events such as weddings, birthdays or reunions into a micro-cation. A trip to visit family or friends also saves money and eliminates the stress of navigating an unfamiliar place.
A Final Word
After pandemic quarantine and isolation, all of us deserve time away from work. Studies show overworking long days on a weekly basis make us less productive, while detaching from work makes us more energetic and resilient and boosts our productivity and the company’s bottom line. Regardless of what co-workers say or how you’re perceived, there comes a point you must prioritize your self-care no matter what. Nobody can or will do that for you. Time away from the office—vacation, micro-cation or stay-cation—is an important part of any good self-care plan. You’ve worked hard and likely suffered symptoms from the pandemic and deserve time off from your job. It heals your mind, body and spirit, clears your head and gives you a perspective on life you can’t get when immersed in the daily grind. Plus you return to work refreshed and restored. Whatever you decide,make sure off times fit your interests and lifestyle—that they’re affordable, non-stressful and easy and fun.
Article By: Bryan Robinson