Vacation guilt will stop you from taking the break you deserve, so stop giving in to it. Taking vacations to recharge or spend time with loved ones is imperative for your mental health, wellness, and happiness. To deal with guilt around using your vacation, change your mindset about work and trust that others can do the job in your absence.
Work can wait, but your mental health and obligations outside of work may not. Create a vacation itinerary that is full of fun and exciting activities so that you don’t experience feelings of guilt. Decide who will take your tasks before your personal time off (PTO) and have faith in their abilities. Consider highlighting in your out-of-office (OOO) note that you will not have access to emails and indicate a date of your return and a person to whom they can contact in your absence.
Set boundaries, such as refraining from checking work emails on your phone during vacation. Taking time off to truly relax, be part of your community, be with friends, and be restorative will make you more productive when you return to work.
Vacation days are one of the benefits offered to you by your employer. Just like other benefits, the expectation is that you’ll utilize these days! Taking a day off can seem like a luxury when things are busy. To minimize guilt, try to plan ahead by thinking about the following:
The answer here lies around what the source of that guilt is. IF you have concerns regarding your abilities to manage your workload, or the timing of your vacation for overall project and business deliverables, have a conversation with your boss. It is in everyone’s interest for a team to perform optimally, and burnout is a common failure mode for high performing teams. Talk with your boss on when would be best to schedule time off, and once it's on the books, keep to the schedule.
If your guilt comes from a more personal place, and you are worried about not being productive or committed enough, remember that work is only one component of a full, healthy life. Resist the temptation to do “just one more thing” before you go, and definitely don’t interrupt your vacation with work tasks. Treat your vacation time as seriously as you would your work time, especially with your loved ones. After all, time is all we have in this world, and it's up to us to decide what to do with it.
This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.
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