Take a holiday for your health

Clinical Director of Wellbeing and Health Promotion
18 July 2016
An image showing Venice

If you’re finding it hard to take your annual leave, you’re not alone. One survey found that more than half of British workers don’t take all their annual leave. But taking time off is really important for your health and wellbeing. And smart employers know that workers who take holidays are more productive and perform better while at work.

Why should you take annual leave?

Everyone needs time to rest, relax and recharge their batteries. However much you enjoy your job, it’s good for you to get away and have a change of scenery from time to time. Having a good work/life balance helps you avoid work-related stress and burnout. And making time for the people you love is very important for good mental health.

Giving workers paid annual leave is not really a perk – it’s a wellbeing health and safety measure. It’s there to make sure that you have a reasonable amount of time to rest and relax during the working year. You’re legally entitled to 5.6 weeks of paid annual leave each year (which may include bank holidays).

Nearly 10 million working days are lost to stress-related illness in Great Britain each year. So taking annual leave is important for you, it’s important for your employer, and it’s important for the economy. 

Why don’t people take leave?

There are lots of reasons for finding it hard to take leave. You may feel guilty giving extra work to your colleagues, or you may worry that your work won’t be covered while you’re away. You might feel that having a pile of work to come back to isn’t worth the time away.

And in difficult economic times such as these, you may feel that you need to show extra commitment by being at work all the time. Or perhaps fear that taking time off might affect a promotion or your job prospects.

You may even feel that the whole process of preparing to take leave and then returning to work afterwards just adds to your stress!

Tips for taking your leave

So how can you make it easier to take leave, and easier to return to work afterwards? These tips might help.

  • Plan your annual leave in advance – book a holiday, or make plans with family or friends. This will help make sure you actually take time off.
  • If you have very busy periods, or a project coming to an end at a particular time, try to plan your annual leave around these. That way you’ll be less tempted to abandon your break because of pressure of work.
  • Talk to the people taking on your work while you’re away. Make sure they know what work needs covering so that you don’t return to a huge inbox.
  • Let the people you usually deal with know when you’ll be away. Hopefully they’ll then know to contact someone else or wait until you’re back to send emails.
  • Try not to check work emails or take phone calls while you’re away. If you absolutely must, plan short periods to look at work issues, then put them away. Don’t keep checking, as this will make it hard to stop thinking about work.

Above all, don’t think of annual leave as an optional extra. Everyone’s entitled to take it, and it’s important for your own health and wellbeing that you do.

Enjoy your holiday!

Do you know how healthy you truly are? Bupa health assessments give you a clear overview of your health. You’ll receive a personalised lifestyle action plan with health goals to reach for a healthier, happier you.
Dr Jenny Leeser
Clinical Director of Wellbeing and Health Promotion

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