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Truly switching off these holidays

​We’re approaching the end of a third year that has been affected by Covid and volatile market conditions, which often affect us more than we realise, even if it feels like we are just getting on with our jobs. We are still trying to settle into post-Covid norms, which require navigation and adjustment. Regardless of where you and your organisation are currently standing, you are very likely to have been impacted this year, still more so than pre-Covid times.

According to our recent Market Trends survey, 56% of employees work extra hours when working from home. This is up from 55% in 2021, meaning that as much as working from home has died down and people are settling into the next phase of working arrangements, we have carried over a habit of working more than we should be, likely leading to a similar level of burnout this year.

Going into the holiday period, it is just as important of a time as ever to really invest in tuning out work and focusing on other things that matter to you, whether that be family, friends, hobbies, physical and/or mental health, or just relaxing as much as possible.

Effects of switching off

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Reduced stress

Taking time to properly disconnect and make use of the time off you are provided is key to reducing any workplace-related stress you may be carrying. Whether obvious or subconscious, workplace stress can manifest physically and mentally, causing headaches, high blood pressure, reduced productivity, depression and anxiety. It is vital to reduce the chance of these occurring on an ongoing basis by breaking the cycle and taking time away from stress.

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Improved Mood

Those who spend time away from work twice or more times per year are less likely to become depressed, tense or tired. With more time to focus on stress reduction and prioritise life outside of work, your mood is naturally improved.

Improved Social Life

Just like our work lives, social lives need nurturing as well. With work being mind and time-consuming for many, the balance between these lives is often uneven. Having the space to take care of your social connections outside of work, whether it be family or friends can revitalise your relationships and reduce stress about neglecting your network.

Greater workplace productivity

Employees who redeem their allotted annual leave are 40% more productive and less irritable, depressed, forgetful and easily fatigued compared to employees who don’t take annual leave. Coming back from proper rest, employees feel recharged, clear-minded and more motivated to pick up their work again with a refreshed perspective.


Set goals for the holidays

Particularly around the end of the year, we can very easily fill our calendars with exhausting activities, consuming food and drinking more than usual, with less time to exercise and enjoy time to ourselves. Although it is important to catch up with loved ones and unwind in this way, it is also important to set aside time to ensure you’ve had the proper break you deserve.

Setting a few achievable and satisfying goals over the break will help with this. Stop and think about what will guarantee a great reset whilst you’re juggling the social elements of the festive season as well. Things like

  • visiting the beach,

  • going on a walk every day,

  • finishing off a chapter of your novel,

  • attending a cooking class,

  • taking a solo day trip outside the city.

Things to take your mind off work, reflect on life, and just enjoy yourself. A simple written note or checklist (certainly not your Outlook calendar) to keep you on track and checking in with your personal needs for the break will do you good.

Turn off unnecessary notifications

To really disconnect and take time away from work, which annual leave is intended for, remove work-related notifications from your everyday devices. Your mind will never properly switch work off if there are still notifications coming through to remind you of what you’re going back to. There is rarely, if ever, a moment at work that should take priority over your mental well-being and taking time to properly reset.

Prioritise spending time with friends, family and most importantly, yourself. It has been another exciting and exhausting year that hasn’t been without a level of burnout. Despite the increased accessibility to work when you are away from work, your annual leave is there for a reason.

Enjoy your time off and from Ambition, happy holidays!

Watch the below Ted Talk on how to turn off work thoughts during your free time

by Guy Winch

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