Health benefits

An explanation of annual leave and its health benefits

It’s time to hit pause.

It’s hard to imagine that 2021 is drawing to a close; I always leave my journal with the year 2020 (wishful thinking?). Despite my stupid ignorance, I can say it’s the end of the year because my body is running on empty.

We’ve been through the bloody ringing this year, forced to acclimatize to unpredictable and shaky times of isolation, over time and stagnation. COVID-19 has burned us so much that stepping into the silky sand and listening to the lapping waves sounds like an implausible dream.

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Pandemic-induced travel bans have made the concept of vacations more complex than ever: travel insurance, pre-flight PCR tests and vaccination certificates galore. But with overseas and domestic travel back to our kingdom, experts urge us to reserve these N / A in the work schedule.

Annual leave (or vacation pay) allows an employee to be paid while taking time off work. Australian employees are entitled to four weeks annual leave, but according to Expedia 2019 study, we are the third in the world to spend time away from work. What’s more, OECD Better Life Index found that Australia occupies the bottom quarter of the country for work-life balance.

We Australians are generally celebrated for our ‘laxity’, so why are we so tense? I spoke with Dr Amanda Ferguson, a Sydney-based organizational psychologist, to better understand how annual leave benefits our health and our work environment.

“Annual leave is a good thing, a healthy thing, a positive thing. Now is the time to identify a gap in your life that you have covered with your work. It can only be globally positive for individuals to take the time to connect, to reflect on themselves, to reflect on their life, their career, their work and to regulate themselves, to change their habits, to correct them. imbalances, ”she says.

Racking up vacations might seem like the norm, but Dr Amanda believes it can cause real damage. “The more time off you avoid taking, the less likely it is [it is that] you are recovering from Burnout and the more likely you are to develop a work phobia in general. It’s a slippery slope, and once you go down that slope with burnout, you’re really dealing with some major mental health issues.

For many of us, the lockdown felt like a very boring nonstop vacation (minus the new experiences). As a result, we have convinced ourselves that we owe overtime to the Office. Similar to sick day guilt, we feel pressured (both internally and externally) to work overtime ourselves in order to maintain job security and stimulate career progression.

Dr Amanda strongly advises against this type of thinking. “It is the fact of being employable that gives job security, not be on top. It’s knowing that in your career you can pivot, network, and have resources that you can tap into. It is a borderline process for us as individuals to ward off guilt. The rational and logical response to guilt is, “I wasn’t in control, I did my best, I didn’t want to abuse the organization or the trust.”

One of the few benefits of COVID-19 is that it has helped humanize the workplace. Managers and leaders are grappling with a new management approach, learning to treat their employees as individuals first and workers second. Dr Amanda says bosses can model a healthy work-life balance by taking their own annual leave. The action serves as visual confirmation to the employee that breaks are part of the human condition.

“A smart employer knows that if he allows his staff to accumulate time off, he is really at risk of burnout and churn. Smart organizations know that an engaged employee takes annual leave and has a good work-life balance.

If taking time off is important, understand how maximize the break is just as crucial. You want to make sure that you go back to work rested and rejuvenated. “Annual leave is a time to work on your life and your work-life balance and [decide] where for next year. A healthy person knows what their hobbies are, what their interests are, knows who their social and family structure is, and generally anticipates that this period will be fulfilling, rewarding and re-enacted, ”she explains.

Take a break if you’re feeling on the verge of resignation or burnout. We didn’t have to feel trapped in our careers; the annual leave offers a perfect environment for introspection, confrontation with existential questions and the recasting of your profession.

Want more tips on how to maximize vacation time? To manage here.