Are you able to unplug and switch off?

For the last week I have been off of work because I finally got to take my honeymoon with my wife, who I married in March 2021, in the midst of the pandemic. Our wedding was live-streamed so our families and friends could watch from around the globe and our wedding party consisted of us, my in-laws who live nearby, and a friend each. It was an unusual celebration to have with so few friends and family there. After our wedding we had a photo shoot and then the evening was spent together. We didn’t plan any honeymoon because we could barely travel outside of our health district, never mind into other parts of the province.

This week we were finally able to get away to Vancouver Island for a few nights. I decided I would take the whole week off work because I hadn’t used any of my holiday leave since joining the company I work for back in November 2020. There wasn’t much point taking time off as I couldn’t go far and I wanted to save my annual leave until I could go on my honeymoon and for travelling back to the UK to see family, hopefully over Christmas and New Year this year.

One thing I like about taking time off work is how easily I manage to switch off from work and completely forget about it for however long I am off. In the past I have had jobs where I would be checking my emails constantly or wondering what was happening in my absence. I had a serious case of FOMO! what broke this habit was actually getting fired from a job 7 years ago. In the space of a few minutes I went from working at a company to being an alumni. No, I didn’t do anything horrendous to get fired, just my stats were poor despite doing everything I could to try and make them better. I poured myself into my work and was miserable.

That day I got fired I learned several important lessons. One, there is no job worth compromising your mental health for. Two, do not stay in a job or work for a company that makes you feel miserable, even if the pay is higher. Three, I am resourceful and resilient. I walked out of that office with my head held high, a smile on my face and determination to never let myself get in that position again. Instead of moping and feeling sorry for myself I put the wheels into motion to follow through on emigrating to Canada and a few short months later I landed in Vancouver where I have called home for the last almost 6 years.

When I go on vacation now I always fully switch off. I turn on my out of office which clearly tells people I am on holiday and will not be checking my emails, I put a contact for someone to contact for anything that is time sensitive, then I shut down my emails, log out of my laptop and put my work stuff away. And that’s where it stays until I am due back to work. I don’t log on a day early just to check, I don’t sneak a cheeky peak at what might be waiting, I just focus on me and my needs. I take time to read, relax without technology and enjoy the company of whoever I am with.

The last week on my honeymoon has been fantastic. My wife and I have never had a holiday away together before because Covid landed only 7 months into when we started dating so travel wasn’t really an option. We had a great time away this week. We talked, we laughed, we cried, we dreamt, we enjoyed new adventures and creating memories together. It was a magical time and tomorrow when I go back to work, I look forward to seeing what I have missed, putting out any fires that might have sprung up, and relax knowing that whatever might have happened in my absence it won’t take much to sort it out.

I know numerous people who cannot/will not do what I do and switch off. They are constantly worrying about what they are missing, what messes there might be to clean up upon their return and feel like they don’t deserve time off. Does that sound familiar to you? Are you a worrying Wendy or panicking Peter? Are you sick and tired of always coming back off of holiday feeling like you need another holiday to get over it or never feeling rested because when you are not working you can’t do anything but think about what’s happening without you?

If you’re sick and tired of this old hamster wheel habit, let me know. It might just be that you need some accountability to switch off, permission to know it’s ok take a break, and support to understand why this habit exists in the first place. I am here to help you help yourself, to support whatever goals you have and to help you decide on actionable steps to get there.

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