It’s time to get away from work and into vacation mode. The past year and a half has been stressful for all Canadians, and burnout is a real issue. The best way to beat it? Take some time off.

But so many of us don’t take advantage of our vacation time. A recent survey found that only two-thirds of Canadians use their vacation time. Here’s why you should be taking it and how to make sure you’re able to make the most of your time away.

Why Aren’t We Taking Vacation?

Fear of Asking
A big reason people don’t take vacation is because they’re uncomfortable asking for time away. In a survey of working Canadians, 30 per cent said they didn’t take time off because of fear. You may feel like your boss will be upset, you might lose your job, or you’ll come back to a pile of work.

Feeling of Guilt
Taking time away from the office can also make us feel guilty. The main reason for this is knowing that our coworkers are going to have to cover for us while we’re away. Chances are you know that feeling and will feel bad about making someone else take on those responsibilities. That means even if you do take a vacation, you’re probably going to be checking in with your coworkers, looking at your emails and not completely disconnecting.

Vacation Helps Fight that Burnout

Better Mental and Physical Health
One of the biggest causes of burnout is stress, which can have a big impact on your overall health. What can help? Taking that vacation time.

Research has found that taking a vacation improves heart health. One study showed those who vacationed more were less likely to have heart attacks or cardiovascular issues. 

People who vacation more also improved their mental health with increased feelings of happiness, better sleep and a reduction in burnout.  Time off has even been found to have the same effects as meditation. 

No matter what type of industry you’re in, you need two things to be successful – creativity and productivity. And guess what? Vacations can help with both!

When you take part in new adventures and experiences or just take some time to relax, your brain gets a big boost of creativity and helps you to think outside the box. That’s exactly what happens on vacation. One study found turning off your phone and hiking in nature can double your creativity. Not only can it boost your creativity, but you’ll also find you’re more productive. One study found that workers returning from vacations had their productivity increase by 40 per cent.

Reconnect with Friends and Family
This past year has been isolating for all of us. We’ve missed out on seeing our friends and family. Vacation offers a great way to reconnect! Look at this as an opportunity to celebrate getting through this stressful time and appreciating how much you’ve missed being able to spend time together. This is great for your mental health as it increases your sense of belonging, boosts happiness and reduces stress. It also helps with physical health, reducing cardiovascular issues and overall well-being.

Making the Most of Your Time Off

Make It a Priority to Disconnect
Technology has made so many aspects of our jobs easier. Meetings can happen anywhere, files can be easily shared and you never miss an email with a smartphone. This isn’t so great when you’re trying to take some time away. That means you have to be proactive! Set an out-of-office email and make sure you have someone to cover you while you’re away. That will make it easier to turn those notifications off and put the phone away.

Get Excited and Prep
Half the fun of the vacation is planning it! Take joy in preparing for your trip with friends and family. Have some family meetings or zoom calls with your pals about what you’re going to do while you’re away. Send each other activities you want to check out, places to stay and where you want to eat, you could even start a Pinterest board. Don’t forget to set yourself up for success on your trip when you’re prepping. That means making sure you don’t have a pile of work when you return and that you’re not overwhelming your coworkers with your work either.

Set Clear Boundaries
You’ve decided you’re going to disconnect while you’re away, now make sure your coworkers know about it. Clearly communicate that you will be away and unavailable. If you’ve decided that you want to check in from time to time, whether that means your emails or with your team, set clear times when you’ll do that and don’t extend them.

Your workplace offers vacation time for a reason – it’s important to take it! We’ve all been through a lot this last year and we deserve to take a break. You’ll improve your mental and physical health and feel better overall at work. So start planning