The idea of what “the perfect holiday” should be like has become somewhat formulaic over the last few decades. Married very much to an employment contract, it is inevitably a week to ten days away where there is sea, sunshine and cocktails. The traditional image includes a shiny hotel with two or three pools where waiters seem to enjoy pandering to our every need. We will probably be abroad and able to explore, take part in exciting hobbies and water sports and get the chance to taste the food and ambience of another culture.
A holiday is more than just an escape from work…
This is all great – and who wouldn’t turn down something so wonderful. But still so many British workers struggle with taking on something so far removed from their everyday work. For many it gets in the way of a routine, that if broken, could place their whole working life at risk. A holiday of any kind is seen perhaps as a luxury rather than – as it should be – an absolute necessity.
That doesn’t mean I am suggesting that spending a work walking along the sea front, cavorting about on a jet-ski or drinking pin-coladas till the sunrises is necessarily going to mean we can hold onto our careers. No, the fact is we are all unique, and we all need something different from a holiday. But there are certain aspects from a holiday – whatever it looks like – that should give us back a spiritual and emotional strength that is essential to balance our everyday working lives.
The essentials we take from holidays
You could encapsulate what holidays give us in four words: Relaxation and stress relief. It is about spending time away from those time boundaries, responsibilities and omnipotent obligations and getting away from impossible deadlines which lead to confused multi-tasking and anxiety.
If a holiday does not offer us these factors, then it is likely we will come back to work feeling even worse than we went away. So, a true holiday from work is not about those frilly extras we buy from the travel agent, but the kind of spiritual and emotional stuff that gives us back the energy to carry on our work when we return – revitalised and fulfilled.
Working to live
Also, in a society where we work for the greater part of our lives, we need to know that the money we are making allows us to buy beautiful things and the time to enjoy ourselves. Unfortunately, we often find ourselves stuck in a rut with our noses to the grindstone waiting for some future time in paradise that will never really happen.
When stress becomes invisible…
The other problem is if you are living with stress day-in and day-out, it is not long before stress becomes the norm. Therefore, if you expect to be living within high stress levels, you do not take evasive action or take actions to help you deal with the pressures your body is under. Because our mental health is linked intrinsically with our physical health it will not be long before our bodies suffer. We start getting niggling aches and pains (tension). Our bodies take longer to recover from illnesses or accidents. We are more susceptible to illnesses and are more likely to take time away from work.
Take what you deserve
Holidays therefore should not be viewed as a nice add on provided by your employer. They should be seen as a necessity that allows you to work at your job to the standard expected. Stress is not the pre-requisite of doing a job properly. And you do not need stress to prove that you are working hard at your job. If you find yourself constantly stressed out or depressed at work then this really is something that you should take up with your employer. However, stress is likely to go hand in hand with work and holidays are the balance.
But for holidays to really do the trick and leave you revitalised, energised and fulfilled you have to believe they are right for you. That they are not a luxury that tends to get in the way of your work and an essential part of your work tools. Only then can you let go and enjoy what you have earnt and deserve.
Happy holidays! You deserve it!
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