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How to Stop Feeling Guilty for Taking Time Off of Work

Two friends at the beach

When summertime rolls around, many of us find ourselves gazing out of our windows while we work away, dreaming of taking a vacation from work. But as you start fantasizing about jetting off to Santorini or Cape Town, thoughts might start creeping in about the amount of work that will pile up in your absence, how the timing is wrong or about how you can’t afford a fancy getaway. But we’re here to let you know to quiet those thoughts and that it’s more than OK to book that time off.

It might be good news to hear that taking time off work is essential to your mental health, wellbeing — and your career. According to the Harvard Business Review, “If you take all your vacation days and plan ahead for trips, you will increase your happiness, success rate and likelihood of promotion, and you’ll lower your stress level to boot.”

So now that you’ve submitted your time-off requests, you need to shake that guilty feeling telling you that you need to be working. But how? We’ve rounded up some tips to help you enjoy your next vacation without stressing about work.

Related: These are the important skills to have on your resume in 2022.

Remember that it’s OK to take a break

If you’re like me, you likely feel that you have to have worked a ton in order to validate taking a day or two off, even if you know you’re in need of a break from your job, especially when you work from home. But it’s important to remember you can’t keep working if you’re burnt out from not taking time for yourself.

It’s important to remember you can’t keep working if you’re burnt out from not taking time for yourself.

“It’s summer for many of us, a time when most of us take vacation, and yet we’re not because it’s such a weird time,” psychologist Jennifer Hartstein told Yahoo Life. “We need to take the time. It’s good for you. It’s good for your brain. It’s good for your body. It’s good for your relationships. So recognize that you’re working hard. That also means you get to relax hard, too.”

You may also like: Over a third of Canadians are burnt out, according to study.


Woman meditating outside

Know that you’re healthier when you’re not stressed

You know that feeling when you’ve returned from time away feeling happy, relaxed and refreshed? This is a sign that a vacation helped you to de-stress, which is good for your health.

“Vacations are important because they not only replenish the mind, they also reduce the physical effects of stress on the body,” said Kathleen Potempa, a professor at the University of Michigan School of Nursing, told CNBC.

Related: 10 affordable self-care strategies for your mental health.

Taking a break will help you be more mindful

Work-life balance is important, and taking time to do nothing is actually proven to increase your mindfulness. If you’re planning on travelling for your vacation, this change in routine may help to give you a chance to reflect.

“When we travel we are usually breaking our normal routine,” says Richard Davidson, professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and founder of the Center for Healthy Minds. “That decreased familiarity is an opportunity for most people to be more fully present, to really wake up,” he says.

See also: How to use breathing techniques to help counter a panic attack: according to a breathwork coach.

Friends playing cards outside

You lower your chance of depression

Knowing that you have paid days off to enjoy is one reason that you can feel less guilty about taking a break, if you work a job that offers paid vacation time. But another added bonus is that for every ten additional days of paid vacation leave, the odds of depression in women was lowered by 29 per cent, according to a study published in the Scandanavian Journal of Work, Environment and HealthSo know that taking the time has that added benefit of doing wonders for your mental health while you unplug from work.

See also: Micro-stressors: what they are and how they work.


Take a vacation (or staycation) on the cheap

If you’re too stressed or low on funds to book an international vacation, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take time off. If you have the money to travel and you’ve been eager to hop on a plane, start planning your vacation and prepare to have fun. But if you can’t afford that or are nervous about travelling, that’s OK too — you can use your time off however you want. A staycation can be just as rewarding, giving you some time to relax and unwind with your friends and family.

There are a number of sights across Canada you can see by taking a road trip, or you can stay even more local by exploring the city you live in. Even if you want to spend your time off watching movies with friends, going camping or taking yourself on a spa day, it doesn’t have to break the bank. Just because you won’t be spending time living it up like a travel influencer abroad, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a break from work calls and emails.

After all, everyone deserves a break from work and their everyday routine sometimes — no guilt required.

Related: The 10 best places in Canada for a couples’ road trip in 2022.

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