2020 has brought many changes to our working lives – whether that means working from home for months on end, or going to work in essential services with strict health protocols in place. For many people, these changes amid uncertain times have resulted in feelings of loneliness, stress and anxiety. It’s not surprising: research by the WHO has found that continued isolation from other individuals can increase the possibility of mental disorders.
While solving mental health issues can be complex, one simple act of self-care you can do is to plan to take annual leave over the end of this year. While your instinct may be not to take time off, a good stretch of time away from work will give you the opportunity to properly rest and recharge, so that you can start the new year on a more positive note. Still on the fence? Here are four more benefits for taking leave over the coming festive season:
- Downtime is hugely beneficial. The benefits of getting adequate sleep are well known, but studies are also now finding that other forms of rest, such as naps and meditation, can have a profound positive effect on productivity, memory and creativity. Taking time off means giving yourself time to slow down your daily routine and incorporate these restful (and restorative) activities into your day.
- Bonding time with family. If you have children, taking leave means you can spend meaningful time with them without the pressures of homeschooling (often while trying to work from home at the same time!). And while you may have spent months on end in a house with your family, quality time where you’re relaxed and free of work pressures is very different.
- A fresh outlook. If you’re lucky enough to be able to go away on holiday, a change of scenery will give you a fresh perspective and an extended break from your normal daily routine. But even if you take a “staycation” at home, you’ll have more time to do things you normally rush or don’t do at all, like sleeping in, reading that novel you’ve been meaning to start, planting a veggie garden or exploring a part of your city you’ve never been to.
- Nature is a tonic. The benefits of nature as an antidote to stress are now well recognised: a 2018 UK study found that spending time in nature reduces the risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. Even doing simple things like feeding the birds in your local park, keeps you in the present moment where anxieties don’t reside. Hiking, outdoor yoga, mountain biking, going for a run in the fresh air – whatever your favourite outdoor activity is, taking leave means giving yourself time to reconnect with nature.
Given the year we’ve had, the resulting negative effects on our mental health are hardly surprising. To counteract this, at Sasfin we encourage you to take your annual leave this festive season, and take advantage of South Africa’s sunny summer weather at the same time. While taking time out to recharge or take a holiday, please remember to stay safe and pack in your sanitiser and masks, plus practise social distancing.
Wishing you and your family all the happiness of this holiday season!
Your Sasfin Healthcare team
Want to better understand the mental health benefits offered through your medical scheme? Contact your Sasfin Healthcare Consultant today.