Christmas is upon us, and while there is always an element of stress related to the holiday period, it’s important to be able to enjoy your break to the fullest…

Converge International

Confidential counselling is open 24/7 during the holiday period
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This break might be a few weeks as your business shuts down, or just a couple of days as your organisation continues to trade throughout December. Whatever the case, you won’t enjoy it if you carry the stress of work with you!

In recent times, many of us have carried the office with us. Working from home and the flexibility digital devices give us have blurred the boundaries between our working and personal lives, making it increasingly difficult to switch off during non-working hours. The temptation to check emails communicate with colleagues can be strong and many people find it difficult to slow down and unwind during their free time – be that evenings, weekends or on holiday.

This “always on” culture can negatively impact mental wellbeing and make it harder to recharge our batteries when we should be enjoying our leave. So, here are some tips and tricks to ensure you come back to work feeling refreshed and ready to achieve those New Year goals!

5 ways to ‘switch off’

Person hand pushing power button on laptop computer

1) Plan ahead 
Your holiday is booked and you know when your last day is before your Christmas break, but you may still have a number of work-related tasks to check off before you log off. It can sometimes be easy to either leave jobs until the last minute, plan to do them after your break, or ignore them entirely! Not completing tasks now can cause unnecessary stress later down the line, so planning ahead and tying up any loose ends can make it easier for you to relax when you’re enjoying your Christmas holiday.

2) Set up out of office  
Make sure you schedule an email out-of-office reply, advising you are on leave, and notifying them of your return date. Include a notification that you will not be accessing your emails while on leave. If your leave time is during a business shutdown period, establish a point of contact in your absence and inform that person to expect some emails. By doing this, you can enjoy your break in the knowledge that someone is picking up urgent matters and actioning the necessary work.

3) Trust your colleagues 
The company won’t collapse just because you’re not there. If you find yourself worrying about a task, contract or client, remind yourself that your colleagues are more than capable of filling in while you’re away. You deserve a break just like everybody else and time away is essential for your mental health.

4) Step away from your emails
It can be tempting to ‘check in’ with your inbox while you’re away from the office — especially since digital technology has made it so easy! Ideally, when your holiday starts, you shouldn’t check your work emails at all, but if the idea of ignoring them entirely adds to your stress, at least limit your tech time. Set yourself some boundaries and stick to them. This could mean setting aside ten minutes each morning to check your phone or laptop, then that’s it. Step away from the screen!

5) Plan something you’d enjoy  
Christmas is a busy time, but try not to over-plan activities so you can and give yourself no time to relax. At the same time, switching off doesn’t have to mean forcing yourself to laze around and do nothing. In fact, sometimes doing nothing can cause you to start thinking about work and what you haven’t done or need to do. By scheduling in some activities, bringing an engaging book you’ve been meaning to read, or saving new music you’ve been looking forward to listening to, you’ll have less time to think about work-related matters.

After the Covid lockdowns, it has become somewhat entrenched that people can log on and work from anywhere. While this can be a benefit, it can quickly shift into something that negatively impacts a work-life balance. If the philosophy of always being available creeps into your annual leave too, it can be extremely detrimental to your mental health.

Working too hard without taking time for rest and opportunity to reset can make us less productive and focused, and increase our chances of stress and burnout. Setting yourself up to make good use of your annual leave and making rest an essential part of your schedule can be a smart way of boosting your productivity. Ultimately, it will help you to be more creative, more motivated and more engaged when you resume work.