In February, CBS News reported that nearly 3 million women dropped out of the U.S. workforce in the past year. Many were laid off or furloughed, while others withdrew from their positions. I can relate: after working a corporate job for 10+ years, 2020-2021 brought burnout and stress as I have never experienced them before.
Last month was full of late nights, skipped family dinners, and irritation, and my spouse and I felt like two freight trains crossing each other’s paths, full steam ahead in opposite directions. I didn’t know how to shift these patterns, but I knew that something needed to change. My first step was to schedule time off. I knew I would have a more significant workload leading up to my vacation, but I didn’t overthink it – taking some time to rest was long overdue.
I am back at work today after over a week away, and I want to share a few suggestions based on my first extended break since the pandemic began.
- Schedule enough time to allow your mind to enter “vacation mode.”
It took about three days before I felt calm, connected, and fully relaxed. When you’ve been moving at an accelerated speed for months, it’s hard to shift gears – give your mind, body, and emotions a few days to catch up.
- Try taking a week plus a Monday.
I took off the entire workweek plus the following Monday off. The extra day made my time feel longer, and coming home didn’t feel as stressful with a long weekend ahead.
- Establish clear expectations on availability.
Consider adding a note to your out-of-office message detailing your level of availability: “I am out of the office from (X date – X date). I will not be checking email until I return to remain present with my loved ones. I look forward to speaking with you when I return!” Then, delete your email app!
- Remember, rest isn’t only for vacation.
The key takeaway from my time off is that we need rest and enjoyment to break cycles of exhaustion and burnout. These are the things that make us human. We must learn to put away distractions and connect with ourselves and our people. Rather than scrolling through social media this week, try indulging in a mystery novel, taking a long walk in a beautiful place, or having a delicious summer dinner with friends.
How do you prioritize rest? Let me know in the comments below!