3 weeks ago

Why A Holiday Is More Important Than Ever This Year

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Holidays may have been relegated to the bottom of your priority list this year, but here’s why they’re necessary and how to reframe them …

For five minutes in March holiday-themed backgrounds were trending during Zoom calls as a source of virtual escapism. Long haul travel destinations such as the Caribbean, Australia, the Maldives and New Zealand were the most popular images for backdrops perhaps reflecting our collective state of mind – get me outta this pandemic! Mountain views, beaches, waterfalls, the sea and lakes also hid the fact that our living rooms or makeshift offices were less than picture perfect.

Then as lockdown unfolded, it became clear that extended layoffs or furloughs were regarded by some as unexpected guilt-free holidays, while for others the sense of anxiety and stress accrued. Insomnia, intermittent concentration, over-performance and financial concerns took over, not to mention health concerns for elderly parents. Working from home, we discovered, meant that we were more productive (minus the distractions of commuting, coffee breaks, office gossip and a constantly ringing phone) with many investing longer hours at the laptop than is normal. (I am sure opticians will experience an uptick in business with eye problems/strain later in the year).

As we enter Phase 3, it’s sadly clear that jobs post Covid-19 may be difficult to find and keep, with holidays at the bottom of the priority pile. Yet work should not eclipse other aspects of living and that includes holidays. How you define a holiday may have changed this year. Now it might mean an afternoon’s walk by the beach, a top notch meal delivery, a day trip and picnic at a scenic spot or a short weekend break in a pretty rented cottage. Whatever your individual take on a holiday may be, they are as important as food and exercise, and are a way of investing in long term good health. 

With restrictions now lifting and Irish hotels and hideaways opening their doors from the beginning of next week onwards, the dilemma of should or shouldn’t we book somewhere is a new conundrum. I say – go for it! If the pandemic has shown us anything it’s that life is short and not to be wasted. Neither should our collective holiday allocations. Supporting Irish tourism is another valid reason – so many businesses have worked behind the scenes to ensure safety measures are in place, and together with collective caution, there should be no harm in a few “away” days.

Furthermore, reports reveal people who do not take holidays have a 21 per cent higher risk of death from all causes. In the long term any sort of break also improves optimism, focus and productivity at work. Take the study on “mind wandering” for instance which reveals that so-called “neural recruitment” (coming up with great new ideas) is strongest when we switch off. In other words, you will likely solve more problems (unconsciously) when you’re on the beach, playing golf or catching up with friends. Consider when computers break down, it’s often a case of turning them off and on again to fix them – the same applies to us.

Reports reveal people who do not take holidays have a 21 per cent higher risk of death from all causes.

The advertising industry (worth an estimated €1.5 billion to the economy annually and employing 4,000 professionals directly and indirectly), is experiencing its own set of challenges as a result of Covid-19. Charley Stoney, CEO of The Institute of Advertising Practitioners in Ireland, is therefore invested in the long term success of the industry and its employees. As an experienced businesswoman she gives her ten top tips on how to approach a holiday this year. 

  1. If you start this time off feeling that you have been obliged to take it and many have, then you’re off to a bad start already.  My advice is to try your best to change your mindset about this leave time and view it as a real holiday.  
  2. Give yourself permission to do what makes you relax the most. Remember, this is still a holiday even if it feels a bit weird. For some people that might mean planning a cathartic clear-out but for others that might mean letting the house turn into a bomb shelter for the week without worrying about it! For some, simply leaving the house every morning and not coming back until the evening will feel like a break if they’ve been stuck inside for weeks working.  
  3. Try to mirror what you would do if you were away from home on holiday. For instance, if you enjoy an early morning walk when you’re abroad, try to do the same here. If you lessen the rules for your kids, do the same for the week you’re on leave.  
  4. If you’re missing seeing friends make arrangements to see them safely and make an occasion out of it. 
  5. Get into the countryside and breathe – whether you’re a hiker, biker or stroller, get out of the house and explore our amazing natural island.  
  6. Try and avoid screens as much as possible during the day. That might mean picking up a book or simply using the phone as a phone – to reconnect with people you haven’t spoken to for a while.
  7. Indulge yourself without guilt. Remember for most holidays, we leave the phrases “shouldn’t do” or “should do” at the departure gate so why not apply the same for a staycation?  
  8. Give yourself me-time and lean into others for help. If you’ve been cooped up trying to work, manage kids, run the household then you’ve probably had very little time to yourself.  Everyone knows how tough families are finding it right now so lean into the kindness of others and ask for help. 
  9. Plan a forever memory. There is always one happy day of your holiday or a time of day that stays planted in your mind after a holiday. Try to visualise what that might be for this time at home and then commit it to memory as a forever moment.
  10. Reach out and talk. We’re lucky in the advertising industry to have the IAPI EAP Programme “smash” that is designed to help all 2,000 employees with any mental health challenges as well as provide legal, financial, nutritional advice from Spectrum Life who run the scheme for us. However, even if you don’t have access to mental health advice through your employer there are lots of ways you can access people to talk to so take advantage of this time off and talk about how you’re feeling and what’s worrying you. More often than not, just talking about it helps hugely.  

This week on thegloss.ie we’ll share further inspiration and information for staycations in Ireland – from essential armchair travel reads to activity breaks and what to pack. What’s most apparent though is that we don’t need a generic Zoom background to transport us to another place. We already have inspirational scenery around us. Let’s celebrate that fully.

Main featured image: Muckross Park Hotel & Spa

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