Did you know that 40% of the Canadian workforce is feeling the effects of vacation deprivation? And that more than 50% of young Canadian workers are feeling it too (the highest rate for all age categories)? This is just some of what this year’s Annual Deprivation study found when surveying Canadian workers from coast to coast.
To find out what’s behind these numbers and what career-hatchers can do to prevent themselves from feeling the negative effects of vacation deprivation, we talked with Beverly Beuermann-King. Beverly is a health and wellness professional and work-life balance expert and was a key player in the study.
Why work-life balance is important
“Finding work-life balance is especially difficult for students and new grads as they’re used to having irregular schedules,” Beverly explains. “What do we see most of when life is out of balance or we’ve been pushing ourselves for too long? More headaches, indigestion, muscle aches and sleep problems.”
Though it’s possible to keep this pace up for a bit, eventually things start to catch up. These problems become more chronic and start to take their toll on our systems in the form of diabetes, obesity and depression.
Achieving that balance
One way to achieve a work-life balance, Beverly says, is to talk with your employer about their wellness policies. Ask what their work-life policies are, what their thoughts on vacation time are and how they make sure employees don’t get burnt out.
Be aware that talking with your employer about their wellness policies is just one step of the process, though. You still need to be making sure that you’re eating properly, getting enough rest and being active to keep your body and mind healthy.
Vacation deprivation and new grads
Vacation deprivation is when you’re not using all of your allotted vacation time or when you feel as though you don’t have adequate time off. According to the study, vacation deprivation rates were highest in young Canadian workers. Beverly believes the younger generation is feeling it the most because we’re new to the workforce and haven’t accumulated very much time off yet. We also have a very different view of the workplace than older generations.
Unlike older generations, young Canadian workers don’t want to wait until we’re retired to have fun. We want to enjoy life as it’s happening and want our career to be a part of that enjoyment. This is great, except when we can’t find that balance between life and work—and the effects are that much stronger, especially on our career. Here are just some of the ways that vacation deprivation can negatively affect a new grad personally and professionally:
- Decrease in creativity and productivity
- Becoming short-tempered
- Increased irritability levels
- Finding yourself dozing off in the middle of the afternoon
- Needing more caffeine, sugar and energy sources
- Weight gain
- Drop in drive, passion, enthusiasm and love of your job
- Development of chronic disorders, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and anxiety
Asking for time off
Some of Beverly’s tips for asking for time off successfully are:
- Planning ahead and communicating with your boss when you’re hoping to take your vacation time to ensure it works for both of you.
- Avoiding last-minute requests to have time off to allow your employer to fully prepare for your absence.
- Learning what the rhythm is of your company so you know when the peak and down times are and can plan around them.
- Having a discussion with your employer to collaborate and figure out how to make everything work while you’re away.
- Talking with your team so they’re aware of when you’ll be away and letting them know if, how and when you can be reached.
Letting go of the guilt
Beverly advises actively making your health and well-being a priority in order to tackle any feelings of guilt you may have about taking time off.
“It’s important to know that time off is critical to your health—it’s not a waste of time or luxury time. It’s to stay healthy and being healthy is a part of developing a career. Once you understand that it’s good for you as a human being and as a professional, taking time off becomes less guilt-inducing,” she explains.
Another way to get rid of those guilty feelings is to communicate with your employer. If you bring up taking a vacation in a timely manner, your employer has adequate time to prepare and there are no surprises when your time off arrives.
Maximizing your time off
Beverly suggests taking one long vacation a year (7 to 10 days), as it takes a couple of days for our bodies to relax and get into “vacation mode”. Also, knowing what you need out of a vacation is key to re-energizing. Whether you need relaxation, fun, adventure, entertainment or leisure, plan your vacation to meet your needs.
For the times you aren’t able to take bigger chunks of time off, Beverly says to work your vacation days into long weekends to make the most of them. She also stresses the importance of staying in tune with what you need, mentally, physically and emotionally, from your vacation.
“Always ask yourself what you really need to get out of your time off—and then do it!”
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