I'm writing this newsletter from my hotel room in Mexico after a day of yoga, a cacao ceremony and reading on the beach while being brought coconuts to drink and yummy snacks. Not bad.

Now, for those of you thinking The title of this newsletter is ‘The importance of taking a break' so why are you writing it on vacation?

Good question. Let me assure you that writing in any form is one of the things that brings me the most joy and satisfaction, so writing this newsletter on vacation is exactly what I want to be doing.

But as I've spent the last couple of days unplugged, barely even checking email or social media, I thought this was a great topic to tackle. Because my friends, I have not always been the best at taking vacation and actually relaxing while doing it.

So today I want to talk about:

  • Why it's important for us to unplug
  • Why so many women I know struggle to do this
  • Some considerations if you are one of the ones who struggle

Let's dive in.

Why is it important to unplug?

There is lots of data out there supporting the need for us to unplug and take regular breaks. The benefits include reduced stress, anxiety, and depression. We're not meant to go 24-7 and often we don't allow ourselves adequate time to rest before we get back at it.

Let's forget week long vacations in Mexico for a minute – on a daily and weekly basis you should be giving your body an opportunity to unplug from the constant pings of social media and email, ideally spending some time in nature, doing exercise, and getting a solid night's sleep.

Think about your daily schedule. Do you work these things in?

If your time outside of work is spent scrolling social media, this isn't going to do the trick and may be adding more anxiety than it's relieving. Studies have found that more time spent on social media increases anxiety and depression, as well as feelings of jealousy and inadequacy in our own lives.

On the flip side, taking regular breaks from work and unplugging for even one day a week can help us to be more productive, creative, and focused at work, not to mention increasing energy and feelings of happiness in our overall life. And there's more – studies show workers that work 55+ hrs per week were significantly more likely to die of heart disease or stroke than those working 40hr weeks.

Back to the Mexico trip – taking vacation provides all of these same benefits, but more. When you take at least 4 days off, your body has an opportunity to completely relax, become more mindful, sleep better, and become less stressed. In fact, studies found that those who take more vacation are less likely to develop metabolic disease, and have lower rates of death from all causes!

We know that stress is at the root of so many chronic health issues. Breaks and vacation reduce stress. This all makes sense.

Then why do so many of us struggle to take a break?

In today's society so many of us are self-proclaimed ‘workaholics', including myself a number of years back. It's easy to fall into this trap, wanting to climb the corporate ladder or build a business, and attain the things that will make others perceive us as successful.

Social media does not make this any easier. With every 3rd person on your instagram reel posting about their trip to Bali and constant announcements on LinkedIn about promotions, new ventures, awards, and features in Forbes, it can feel as though we are so far behind. And at work you may be feeling competition with your colleagues who also want to get ahead.

Perhaps you're feeling the pressure from your work environment, with constant deadlines and never-ending priorities. We can feel as though we ‘can't' take a vacation, because the timing is never right.

Or perhaps you've fallen into the trap that I was caught in – tying our worthiness to our career and work success. This can be the perfect recipe for becoming a workaholic. The more you work, the more success you see and the more worthy you feel.

As someone who is a ‘hyper-achiever' I derived a lot of my self worth from my achievements. Growing up with undiagnosed ADHD, I often felt I was failing at life, so once I got into my career and was good at it, I wanted more of that feeling! Not only that, I was being rewarded with promotions and bonuses!

But of course, this is a dangerous mentality, because at the end of the day our worth has to come from ourselves. Once I became more aware of my own thought patterns, I was able to finally challenge these feelings and work through them.

If you're someone who identifies with any of the scenarios above, I get it. I see you. And it is possible to work through all of this stuff and come out the other side.

Some additional considerations, in case you're not convinced

For much of my career I missed out, both on being present while I was ‘off' and even on taking certain vacations and trips because I felt I couldn't.

I remember being invited to a good friend's wedding in Mexico, but it conflicted with a meeting my boss wanted me at. I missed the wedding. The meeting? I don't even really remember it, but I do remember thinking how much it was NOT worth missing the wedding for.

Here are some things I learned from my 18 year corporate career, and coming out the other side:

  1. No one at work notices when you spend your whole vacation working. Seriously. They may thank you at the time or may appreciate getting the immediate reply, but it's soon forgotten. You aren't actually gaining the brownie points you think you are.
  2. Same goes for mat leave. If you choose to cut it short (I'm mostly thinking of my Euro and Canadian ladies here), no one will really remember long term. So take the time you want.
  3. The people who will remember you working that whole vacation? Your family. And guess what? They are the ones who care more about you than anyone in the world. And they'll never lay you off.
  4. People who are rested and who take breaks and vacations are more focused, creative, and productive. Believe it or not, showing up as the best version of yourself at work is going to be much easier if you take breaks.
  5. Delegating to your team not only frees up time for you, it also allows them to rise to the occasion and gain visibility and recognition.

So there you have it. Breaks and vacation will make you healthier, less stressed out, and more productive at work. Seems like a great deal to me.

Time to start booking the next one!

Until next time friends… ✌️💜

Katy