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Posts Tagged ‘self care’

When did you last take a vacation day?

I’m not asking when you last took a vacation; instead, when did you take a day off for yourself?

Sadly, over half of Americans end the year with unused vacation days, collectively sacrificing 662 million days off. The Project Time Off report found that compared to employees who use all of their vacation time, employees who end the year with unused vacation time are lower performers: they are less likely to have been promoted within the last year and less likely to have received a raise or bonus in the last three years. Furthermore, those who fail to use their vacation time report feeling more stressed than those who use all of their vacation time.

While I don’t always take vacations, about once a month I take a vacation day to spend time with my nephew. I call these days my mental health days. They provide me with a mental break from my work and allow me to spend time in a low stress environment. My nephew and I almost always spend time together outside, and we sometimes do activities together like coloring or reading story books. I find great joy in watching this little man explore the world around him!

A young boy playing outside in a play house

Playing “house” with my nephew

For me, these days are pre-planned. I believe that it’s important to take time for yourself to do activities that you enjoy to help prevent and cope with stress, and I try to practice that in my personal life. If this is a new concept to you, identify a few stress coping strategies you might use to take time for yourself when you need it, such as:

  • Spending time in nature
  • Working on a project in your home or yard
  • Doing yoga, tai chi or another physical activity
  • Pursuing a craft or hobby
  • Practicing mindfulness, gratitude or meditation

Additionally, you might find that you have days when it makes sense to use a sick day as a mental health day. Just as there are days when you find it better to call in sick to work than attempt to power through the day because you feel lousy physically, we all have days when anxiety and stress are too distracting to perform our best. When this is the case, go ahead and call off – and don’t feel guilty about doing so! If you had the flu, no one would blame you for calling off sick. Learn to prioritize your mental health as much as your physical health, and do what you need to do to take care of yourself.

 

Sources:

Heer, C. & Rini, J. (2016). Stress Coping Methods. Ohioline. https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5242

Morin, A. (2017). How to know when to take a mental health day. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201707/how-know-when-take-mental-health-day

Zillman, C. (2017) Americans are still terrible at taking vacations. Fortune. http://fortune.com/2017/05/23/vacation-time-americans-unused/

 

Written by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

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