Do you struggle to switch off?
You’re not the only one. According to a Direct Line Travel Insurance survey, 4 million British employees don’t take their annual leave every year, with 34% claiming that their workload is too heavy, 22% claim that they only take holidays if they’re going away on a trip, while 21% don’t feel the need to take time off, and another 21% feel that their employer limits them when it comes to claiming their holiday entitlement.
I know with furlough and the pandemic, it’s been a strange one this year for many people. Everyone needs time off and time off on furlough has not been all roses for everyone. Many people are feeling worried about their jobs and so furlough becomes a time to overthink and worry about the future. Furlough isn’t a holiday as such and many other employees still in work are having to take the brunt of the workload due to the reduced workforce. I do genuinely worry for the future culture clash in workplaces that might happen between staff who were furloughed and those who carried on working. Time will tell on this.
When it comes to taking time off, it’s something I dread. It’s always been difficult for me to take time off, whether I’m employed or self-employed. I really struggle to switch off from work – it’s one of the biggest struggles I’ve had for as long as I can remember that requires the most self-discipline. Now I am self-employed it also means I have to do next week’s work this week.
As I write this, I’ve got one more day to wrap up before some well-needed family time off. It’s the first time we have been able to take more than one day off together since Christmas.
We’ve had a few Saturdays off in lockdown but they’ve all been heading to my husband and son’s 2020 pass time of choice – motocross.
The small and large boys love it and I do enjoy watching my son Blake’s reactions and enthusiasm but it’s not my ‘thing’ and can be quite intense.
The reality is I’m a glorified steward when there, checking Blake doesn’t crash or fall off. If I take my eyes off him for a minute you can guarantee he’ll face plant in the mud! It’s not something that recharges and re-energises me. As I wrote on my blog this week, my ‘mum-guilt’ is in overdrive and I need to soothe it quickly.
So I’m feeling a little (a lot frazzled) today knowing that a few days off are just on the horizon, dangling like a hypothetical carrot of delicious relaxation temptation.
I have been looking at Air B&B rentals and places to go in the UK but the rental prices are astronomical. Plus I have two dogs that could possibly come with us but if you’ve ever followed me on social media and seen my dog, Kevin. Well, need I say anymore? He is a complete asshat who cannot behave so it just ends up being stressful taking him anywhere.
When I was looking at holiday properties to rent, many of them looked just like my lovely house! We have spent three long, arduous and disciplined years renovating our property after we took it back to brick and lived in a caravan in our garden. The house almost broke us; financially, physically and mentally.
Every morning when I come downstairs to make my morning coffee I purposely have a moment where I practise gratitude for our home. I am so proud of what we achieved but I feel like I work so much every day, I don’t have time to enjoy what we painstakingly built.
So I’ve decided that we are treating our cottage as a holiday home for a few days and in order for it to feel like a holiday at home, the phones and devices have got to be switched off. I also might even put something in front of my office door to keep me away from my computer! Or shock horror, turn the wifi completely off! (My kid is going to go nuts).
Holidaying at Home
I’m going to get us some lovely food; picky bits you’d have on holiday like tapas or BBQ buffet food and insist we eat outside and watch the sunset every evening. It is always so beautiful and I want to appreciate it more. I’ll order in some bottles of Nosecco too to really get in the mood (it’s 6 months sober for me on Tuesday!).
I already got a few board games at the start of lockdown and the playing cards will definitely make an appearance along with paddling pool frolics. Someone offered me a second-hand trampoline for a few quid so that needs to get picked up too.
The only other thing I need is a sun lounger to complete the look and feel of our true staycation. Although I reckon the prices on those will have inflated so I might end up on the big blow-up air bed on the lawn instead (great tip for a comfy outdoor bed there!).
We will turn off our alarms and sleep in. We will slap on sun cream and wear floppy hats and I will pretend I am in the south of France for a few days.
This all sounds glorious, doesn’t it? Yet I know it’s going to take an extreme amount of discipline for me to actually relax and take the time as a legit holiday.
For now, I’ve got to do what every entrepreneur knows well – time to glue myself to my desk and frantically cram all of next week’s work into the next 24 hours.
By then I will be fully burned out and have no choice but to take the holiday! As is the case every time. Sigh
I’m off to write like the clappers and tie up all my work. I hope you’re also managing to relax and take time off this summer.
Ps – Remember, if you’re looking for a summer read for your own staycation or holiday abroad, my new book Stop Procrastinating and Start Living is out now.
Gemma Ray is radio presenter, best selling author, communications coach and always the most filthy person in a WhatsApp group chat. Gemma tells it like it is and opens up about the stuff most people would never even dare admit to themselves, let alone put out in public.
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