It’s your friendly neighbourhood Emma here, coming at you with my first blog post for Naheyawin!
With the holidays coming up, there are a few thoughts at the forefront of people’s minds: meal planning, travelling on snowy roads, buying gifts, and the fabled idea of time off from work. Whether it be two days or two weeks, many look forward to having those extra few days away from work to be with family and friends.
However, time off seems to only be used during the holidays. Unless it is a stat holiday, people would rather they didn’t take time off. Expedia.ca has been able to come out with a “Vacation Deprivation” survey, showing that Canada has a hard time taking time off, coming in at 10 million unused vacation days in 2015. This year will be their 16th year of holding this survey. 16 years of data that all point to three words: take your vacation.
It’s not as simple as that for everyone though. Many employees refuse to take their vacation days because they rely on the payment in lieu. Others say that taking time off leaves them with more work to do in the end, so it’s better to just not take it and stay caught up. A few also just don’t find vacation relaxing and find that feeling forced to take vacation has the opposite effect on them. While this may be the case for some people, there is one thing we can all agree on.
Working too much can lead to burnout.
It happens to the best of us. We want to make a good impression at a new job or we don’t want to fall behind, so we spend more hours in the office. Entrepreneurs (*cough* Jacquelyn Cardinal *cough*), for example, are notoriously bad for working overtime (understandably so) and burning themselves out. It’s a hard lifestyle to sustain. Ignoring your personal life to focus on work has many negative side effects:
Exhaustion and cognitive problems: You can’t expect to think properly when you haven’t had a proper amount of sleep.
Lack of motivation: whether it be to complete a new project at work or chores at home; any kind of work can be the last thing you want to spend your time on.
Preoccupied with work all the time: You can’t unplug from work. You sneak in emails while at home and are constantly thinking of what you will have to work on the next day.
Neglecting yourself: By being so focused on what work needs, you lose focus on what you need, leading to increased physical and mental health problems.
Negative emotions: Burnout can leave you feeling cynical and frustrated with a job that you used to love and enjoy, resulting in decreased satisfaction in your work.
Interpersonal problems: Feeling negatively about your work and yourself can cause rifts between colleagues, friends, and family members without meaning to.
Slipping job performance: We are taught that putting in the extra work shows what a great work ethic you have. Burnout shows that this is not the case. Slipping job performance is almost inevitable when you look at the side effects listed above.
Burnout is not the same for everyone. Studies show that when women feel burnout that exhaustion comes first, followed by cynicism and a slipping job performance. Men, on the other hand, feel cynicism first and then exhaustion, but they continue to work at the same pace because they believe they are still working effectively. However, continuing to work at these high stress levels increases the likelihood of cardiovascular disease. While burnout can look different depending on the person, you can see where side effects can link together and become almost cyclical.
Which is why we all need to take a break.
More companies are learning that the typical allotted 2-3 weeks of vacation isn’t working. There is no real incentive to use the given time and can cause more stress since you are now cramming three weeks of work into the few days before you leave. So what do we do?
Companies are starting to adopt the unlimited vacation policy used by Adobe, Netflix, and Twitter: take as much or as little time as you need to feel rejuvenated. This method acknowledges that everyone works differently and have different needs in order to come back to work feeling refreshed. By giving the freedom to set your own vacation, the hope is that you will actually use it when you need it and can work as you want to.
Other companies are establishing mandatory time off, where the entire staff closes shop for a week. When everyone is out of office, people are less tempted to work because no one is waiting on them for a task. How often is this mandatory time off? Well, depends on the company. One company tested this method and started with a week off every seven weeks. After receiving feedback, it was decided that the breaks were too often and it was changed to every eight weeks.
Naheyawin has decided that we will be establishing ceremonial breaks for our team. There will be four week-long breaks throughout the year, each coinciding with the coming solstice and equinox of the season (March, June, September, December), and will be times of reflection and rest. These ceremonial breaks will allow us to unplug from the office and take time for ourselves to keep creativity and passion in our work.
We’re not saying you need to book a trip to Hawaii and get tanned (or sunburnt) with a pina colada in hand. Everyone sees vacation differently. Some need to jet off to get into vacation mode. Others need to take the time to be at home with family and catch up on chores there. And there are those who need to do absolutely nothing but be by themselves.
For our upcoming ceremonial break from December 24-30, I will be spending time with my family over the holidays: baking sugar cookies, playing with my nieces, and cuddling with the dog while I try to finish another book (key word is “try”). Keltyn will be spending time with loved ones, creating content for her personal blog (can’t stop, won’t stop with the content creation) and refreshing her living space with a good clean and purge. Hunter and Jacqui will be attending ceremonies, speaking with elders, and spending some well earned quality time with family. Natalie will be supporting the Cardinal siblings, wearing bear feet slippers 24/7 and warming her hands in front of a virtual fire on YouTube (not everybody has an actual fireplace, okay!?). We are all using this time in a way that suits us as a means of relaxation and we’re excited to see what the new year will bring us.
We challenge you to use your new year’s resolution to unplug more often from work. Whether it is for three days or 30 seconds… make the time to refresh, reflect, and recharge.
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