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Perhaps this is timely with the census placing mental health front of mind. Without meaning to underplay the complexities in that, is it time for a mid-year break, a real break?

A former boss of mine, Gerald Stone who started 60 Minutes in Australia, once refused to allow me to do some extra work during my holiday. The Bulletin, now defunct, had agreed for me to go to Antarctica and write about Australia’s scientific work. This was back in the days when, generally, only scientists made the journey. Gerald said to me something like, “You can’t go. I pay you to go on leave to relax, so that you can come back refreshed.”

Now that I’m responsible for staff, I want the same. Wellness is important. I want people to go on leave, and refresh. And I want them to go before it becomes necessary.

That means self-awareness and monitoring. So while everyone is different, here are some signs others use to red-flag a decent mid-year break:
1.    You can’t remember what you read, just after reading it
2.    Sleeplessness
3.    Irritableness
4.    Your brain is not calm
5.    Work has lost its lustre
6.    The orderly routines of life start falling apart
7.    Forgetfulness
8.    You stop listening to your internal voices
9.    You start eating badly.

Here’s some more feedback:
1.    Most of us intersperse relaxation into our work – a regular walk along the beach; a restaurant with our partner, or with friends; meditation; or structured relaxation on weekends. However, is that a substitute for a holiday? Probably not.
2.    Is a week’s break enough? Maybe two weeks is needed to wind down and then get you to the point where you are itching to get back to your colleagues and tasks.
3.    Be strong enough to say “No.” Beware of making a holiday exhausting, for instance with a heavy travel schedule, or with burdensome family obligations.
4.    When you finish one holiday, start planning the next. Have a holiday to look forward to; especially useful as a go-to place when work keeps you awake at night.

P.S. I’m just back from a break including a hike near Sedona, Arizona.

Author Peter Wilkinson

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