Yep, I said it, and there doesn’t seem to be a better time than the eve of Labor Day Weekend to say this to whoever needs to hear it – and it’s probably YOU – take a vacation, or you’re going to lose your dang mind.
At this point in the year, I have normally burned through almost all of my PTO, leaving me to come up with creative solutions to stretch out the remaining days of the year. But now we are in this weird reality where I find myself trying to convince friends to take time off. Two conversations I had this week with very high performing female friends included: trying to convince one that she should go on a bike ride, even though it will mean she’ll have to work later on in the evening to make up for it, and reassuring another that being on a plane was not that bad with proper PPE, in fact the plane may be the cleanest now that it has been in years. Another next-level, super-travel-planner male friend, who is also a new dad, lamented about how he has planned out multiple trip scenarios, domestic and international, as the rules of travel and his family’s personal dynamics have changed.
I’m legitimately worried about these friends because they, like me, have made travel one of the main ways they unwind. We disconnect by hiking mountains, exploring new cities and countries and going to Broadway shows (on Broadway). I hoard my vacation time and generally work, work, work and go, go, go when I’m home. When I’m out of my home environment is when I give myself permission to relax and unplug – even if that means running around another country like it’s my job. But when you’re wired this way, and have little or no reason to go anywhere, and you want to do your best to not be an infectious disease vector, it’s a recipe for mental health disaster. It seems like the people I know who generally do not travel much seem to be doing far better through all of this.
It is now SEPTEMBER, people. If you’re like me and haven’t done the kind of traveling you normally do, and haven’t found other ways to relax at home, you’re probably not okay. Not leaving South Florida, a tropical paradise most of the year that transforms into a Vietnam movie in August, brought me closer than I’ve ever come to a breakdown.
That said, we all have different levels of comfort when it comes to being around other people and traveling in a pandemic, so, you gotta do what you gotta do. If home is the only place you feel safe, you have to find a way to disconnect while there, and take a vacation day, or five. Maybe stay at the home of a friend or family member. If you’re working remotely, perhaps it’s time to literally head for the hills and rent a cabin. Hotels and other hospitality industry businesses are working harder than ever to keep guests safe. It’s easy to spot the ones that care and reward them with your business. No matter what anyone may say, this thing is not going away overnight. We need to adjust for what could be a very long haul. And please, save your sanity now, and take some time off.