After months of working from home: The summer holidays are important!

Spend this year’s summer holiday on enjoying your freedom and family life – you will need it after 16 months in which your work life has been a part of your family life.

If you are longing for the summer holiday and feel that you need it even more this year than ever before … Then you are absolutely right. More than a whole year of coronavirus and working from home means that, for some, separating work and leisure has been a challenge:

- We need to pay extra attention to letting go when it is time to go on holiday this year. Working from home means that the boundaries between work, leisure time and private life easily get blurred, says Robert Jonasen, Chief psychologist at SOS International.

If there is no clear distinction between private life and working life, over time, this can expose the individual to significant mental strain.

- Many feel that they have been given more time and extra energy because they have worked from home but, at the same time, the workload has moved into the home which was previously a refuge from the pressures of everyday working life.

- This year’s summer holiday is a golden opportunity to enjoy your freedom and private life to enable you to recover and become better at mastering the work-leisure balance which has been challenged and unsettled by the last 16 months of working from home, with the workplace and the bedroom being separated by only a 30 cm plaster wall, says Robert Jonasen.

The home office is here to stay
To one extent or another, working from home is here to stay and, therefore, learning to set clear boundaries between working and private life is important:

- We must pay particular attention to ensuring that we are not available for work all the time. New cutting-edge research indicates that if boundaries are too blurred, we risk burn-out. Working from home signals greater freedom, however, it can have the opposite effect if we do not set clear boundaries and learn routines that separate work and leisure.

- The increased load is insidious because we do not notice and, thus, are unaware that it increases. It corresponds to loading a boat one pea at a time. It is that last pea that causes the boat to start taking in water and sink, says Robert Jonasen.

One way we avoid overstretching ourselves is to identify “dividing lines” or routines that ensure a good transition from work to leisure time – both in everyday life and leading up to the holiday. The quality of this transition determines whether your make the most of your leisure time and are recharged to resume work.

Things you can do to separate work and leisure time:

  • Find and implement routines that mark the start and end of the working day
  • End the working day by noting down what you need to do tomorrow
  • Take a short walk or bicycle ride (without your mobile phone), feel free to use an app that guides you through a few minutes of relaxation
  • Exercise or go to the gym straight after work
  • Watch or listen to an episode of a series you follow

Things you can do before you go on holiday:

  • Plan regular breaks for your workdays leading up to your holiday
  • Prioritise your tasks. Avoid the trap of wanting to complete too many tasks before your holiday – some of them can probably wait
  • Plan to have your last day at work midweek. The transition from work to holiday becomes gentler if you end on a three-day work week
  • Plan activities for your holiday that are of value to you

Things you can do during your holidays:

  • Make sure that you are not constantly available. Do feel free to close down the home office – especially if you are on holiday where you have had your home office
  • Uninstall the work email from your telephone. Enter into a clear agreement with your employer about whether and to what extent you may be contacted
  • Avoid (too many) to-do lists during your holiday – remember to just relax and be in the moment
  • Prioritise both your own needs and those of your family. It is important to make room for both
  • Do spend some of your holiday on something involving water, rocks or nature – they have a destressing effect on your mind



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