I’m not a full-time blogger & work in tech for my full-time gig. In my early and mid-twenties I didn’t have the best work benefits when it came to vacation time and I know a lot of people aren’t so lucky or don’t have plentiful vacation days. Many people try and bank their vacation for one big getaway during the year. In the United States there also is some sort of stigma around actually utilizing all your vacation pay for the year because many people don’t use it.
Working in tech and having burned out a few times, I’ve come to understand the importance of taking those vacation days, even if I’m not actually going anywhere. Especially as a designer, when you’re burned out you just can’t do your best problem solving.
The last few years, as we’ve come out of the dull grey winters of the Pacific Northwest, I’ve started to take a day off when we get that first really warm and sunny day. For me, it’s especially important I do this because seasonal depression hits me hard and I need that sunshine. I’ve also spent too many beginning of spring days watching those warm, sunny days pass while I work away inside, staring longingly out at the sun.
So this year, when the forecast said upper 70 degrees on a Monday…I planned ahead and took the day. I stayed at home with my dogs, waited for that sunshine to hit the yard because it was actually quite chilly in the morning and then went outside.
I worked on digging out a smaller garden bed where my pumpkin patch will go, I cleared out the cover of leaves I had protecting my garlic bed, I planted arugula and spinach and repotted some herbs into larger pots. I played frisbee between tasks with our Border Collie while our Pomeranian lounged in the grass, like she does, and chewed on her ball. I sipped on a mimosa while doing all of these things because why not. I brought out a portable speaker and listened to 90s Europop.
My shoulders were slightly sunburned the next day but I went to work feeling more content about it. I wasn’t distracted or concerned about missing out on time in the sun (even though it worked out I got to take a walk a mile across the Microsoft campus over to an event.)
Take a Day For Your Mental Health
If you can take a day off for yourself, do it. There is no stress about having to go somewhere if you’re taking a vacation day to stay at home. Perhaps the irony in using vacation days for a big getaway is that it can be so packed with stress until you get to your destination that it’s actually hard to relax.
But when you take a day for yourself, at home, there should be no stress. If you want to spend the day reading? Do it. Concerned about not getting something like a chore done? Do it first thing in the morning. Get it out of the way but don’t let it hang over your head.
The goal of a vacation day at home is to reset. Everyone resets in a different way. But taking a day to ignore emails and focus on something that makes you happy is the key. It’s amazing what a day away can do for your mental health.
If you’re able to, try it, especially if you’re feeling stressed. It’s just one day. If you have vacation days, they are there for a reason. Vacation doesn’t have to be a word for a big getaway. Stay home and practice some self-care. You deserve it.