Published Thursday, March 30, 2023
by Haley Shipston, Health Promotion Project Assistant
Whether it’s booking a vacation or staying close to home relaxing, taking time off work is an essential component of work-life balance. Burn out, stress, sleep quality and productivity are all aspects that can all be improved by taking time away from our regular day-to-day routines. Are you too busy to take a vacation? Research has found that 78 per cent of people were more focused when they returned to work from time away. Not only can it benefit you directly, but it will benefit your work as well.
When you repeat your daily patterns without any variability, your brain does not have the opportunity to grow and change through learning or experiences. Taking a vacation can help to change your daily routine, improve your brain function and become more adaptable. Experiencing new places or learning a new language forces you to process new information, think creatively and gets your brain firing.
Don’t have time to go on a weeklong vacation? Even short breaks can illicit positive benefits. One strategy you can use any time - even at work - is the HALT method to complete periodic scans of your body’s basic needs. Once those basic needs are taken care of, you will be better equipped to take on the day. The first step of this method is to find a comfortable position to sit, stand or lay down. Then ask yourself four simple questions.
- H: Are you hungry? Where and how do you feel your hunger? Are you teetering into “hangry”? Food is fuel for bodies and once the low fuel light is on you may be unable to handle the day to the best of your ability.
- A: Are you angry or anxious? Where in your body do you feel these emotions? Anger and anxiety are emotions driven by the nervous system, and when they occur, emotions are harder to control. How can you help yourself be less anxious or angry?
- L: Are you lonely? Are you needing to be around others or engage in social activity? Is your social battery needing a boost? Social interaction can energize and provide comfort and connection.
- T: Are you tired? Is your tank empty? Tiredness can be from lack of sleep or from doing too much. Without adequate energy, productivity can slow or come to a standstill.
Once you have checked in with yourself and gauged your body’s needs, you are better equipped to handle stress that may come your way. Do you need a larger reset in the form of a vacation or does your body need a slight adjustment to help meet your needs? Can you help your body and your mind deal with daily stressors? Could you meal plan, see a friend, journal, try deep breathing or plan to lessen your load or get a better night’s sleep? Whatever you may choose, don’t forget to press pause every once in a while.