Sun, sand, an iPhone in your hand. If this is your idea of vacation, something’s wrong with this picture. Sad as it is, staying plugged in, and even working, on holiday is the new norm. For most of us, whether poolside or at the beach, or tucked away in a tent or a cruise cabin, our smartphones, laptops and tablets are always faithfully by our side or in our hands. We don’t know when to quit.
We all get excited for holidays but the truth is, few people take as much as they should. In fact, I’m willing to bet that many of us are still thinking about the office when we’re supposed to be in vacation mode with friends and family.
I have been a certified workaholic for a long time now, never unplugging, even during holidays. Vacation days seemed like missed opportunities but I’ve come to realize that exactly the opposite is true. Taking time off each year to recharge and find inspiration is essential for your long-term health, personal and professional. I’ve started changing myself and hope you do too, because study after study has shown that employees who take time off are more productive afterwards. As Robert Reich, former US Secretary of Labor, puts it, “Their batteries are recharged. They have higher morale, and are less likely to mentally check out on the job.”
Unplugging for the holidays is more than just sticking your smartphone or other tech devices into another room for a few hours. Instead, it’s about making a concerted effort to give your brain a break and allow yourself to enjoy life’s smaller pleasures: the company of loved ones, truly enjoying a meal without first snapping photos of it or even just having some mental downtime.
If that sounds a little too much for you, there are actually scientific benefits to disconnecting and plugging back into “IRL,” or in real life:
Fostering a Healthy Work / Life Balance
Nomophobia is the fear of being without your smartphone, at first, I couldn’t believe myself that such a phobia exists, but trust me, it is real! If putting down your smartphone makes you feel FOMO, then you’re not alone. About 50% of the adult population check their phones numerous times an hour, even on holidays. Instead we need to put it away and truly disconnect, it will be difficult at first but once you’ll get used to it life will be much more balanced.
Reduce Unnecessary Stress
We all know that working could be stressful at times, and if you’re already stressed, too much up time can make you feel more anxious and increase levels of depression. The pressure of waiting for an email, the seemingly endless customer correspondence or getting that last contract signed before the day is over can all eventually take a toll on our mental health. Luckily, unplugging can reverse those effects and help you recharge and re-energize over the holidays for the working days to come.
Improvement in Concentration and Mental Clarity
Do you find yourself switching between activities and tasks, talking on the phone while writing an email to a customer or simply trying to listen to that story your partner is telling you while checking tomorrow’s calendar? All that multitasking is doing things to your brain, and they aren’t good.
Our brains can’t take too much of multitasking for longer periods of time and require regular breaks and downtime. When we multi tasks, our mind shifts focus super quickly, losing cognitive function in the process, making us more stressed and impulsive over the long run than people who disconnect and learn to take some downtime.
Disconnecting and taking downtime on holidays will allow you to practice mindfulness and give all your attention to what’s happening in front of you, whether it’s playing with your children or enjoying that delicious bite of apple pie. You might notice that you remember small details a bit better, as your brain is able to focus on the task at hand and process info more quickly.
Healthy and Restful Sleep
Getting enough sleep is important for our body to function optimally, which we all lack in a working week. Holidays give us the opportunity to get that little extra sleep and rest ourselves to recharge for the coming days.
Disconnecting can help improve your sleep. You might find your memory improving, as sleeping seems to help new concepts ‘set’ in the brain. Getting enough zzz’s also reduces the risk of everything from heart disease to diabetes.
Improvement in Your Health & Happiness
Though families can drive us crazy at times (speaking for myself ), but they are also one of the most important blessing, spending time with your friends and family actually improves your health. Disconnecting from work over the holidays gives you an opportunity to nurture those relationships that are important to you and reconnect, while increasing happiness in the life.
If you truly disconnect and take some downtime to relax on the holidays, that will eventually make you more focused and efficient in your work in the days to come. Wish you a Merry Christmas and wonderful new year, enjoy this break with your family and friends.