COVID has our travel plans on pause, and some of us are putting off taking annual leave until we can get on a plane again.

But it could be more important than ever for our mental health to take time off right now.

Downtime is crucial for our mental and physical wellbeing, as well as a healthy work-life balance. And you don’t need to have big travel plans to enjoy the benefits of a holiday.

We discuss why it’s important to still take a holiday during COVID – even if you can’t go anywhere.

 

We All Need a Mental Health Break During COVID

COVID has disrupted all our lives in one way or another, and the related mental health effects – whether big or small – have been ongoing for almost two years.

Research proves what we already assumed: COVID has negatively impacted our mental health and happiness.

Over 55% of us reported increased feelings of anxiety or nervousness since COVID-19, while 45% reported increased loneliness. Over 48% reported an increase in feelings of depression or low mood, and over a third (34%) reported poorer mental health overall.

You might think it’s a “waste” to take your annual leave when you can’t leave your country, state, or even your suburb. But it’s actually the perfect time to prioritise some downtime and give yourself a chance to rest and recharge.

Studies show some of the benefits of taking time off work include:

  • Reduced stress
  • Extended life
  • Improved overall mood
  • Better social life
  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Improved work productivity.

With everything that’s going on in the world right now, our mental health needs to be a priority. Because “powering through” could lead to burnout and further damage our emotional wellbeing.

Discover how COVID-related workplace changes have impacted our mental health in this 2020 study.

 

How to Have a ‘Staycation’ During COVID

You don’t need to take a trip or fill your days with activities to “make the most” of your break.

You might use your time off to catch up on some reading, visit friends and family you’ve been too busy to see, or start that veggie garden you’ve always wanted.

Maybe you need some time to tick off those life admin to-dos that have been in the back of your mind for a while. Or perhaps you simply want to switch off, take some naps, and escape into Netflix.

If you are looking to create a special staycation at home or in your local area, you might find these ideas helpful:

  • Prepare your surroundings – If you’re planning to stay at home, prepare your space and create an environment you can relax in. This might mean doing a thorough clean, stocking the fridge and pantry, or adding final touches like candles or lamps. If you work from home, it might help to put your computer and/or other work equipment out of sight during your break.
  • Go camping – For something a little different, why not spend some time outdoors? If COVID restrictions in your area permit it, pitch a tent at a local spot. If not, set up in your own backyard. Endless studies prove the mental health benefits of nature, so this could be a great time to soak it in.
  • Stay in a local Airbnb or hotel – Sometimes you just need to escape from your normal environment and routine in order to switch off. If you can, book some time in a local Airbnb or hotel for the ultimate staycation.
  • Be a tourist in your hometown – When was the last time you truly explored your local area? If your local government area allows it, take some time to check out the local hotspots, landmarks, museums and art galleries. Put on your curious tourist goggles and wander around at your own pace – like you would if you were visiting a new city.

If you’re finding life extra challenging right now, talking to someone can help. You can learn about our counselling services here, or call 1300 364 277 to book an appointment in person, over the phone, or via videoconferencing.

We share some tips to protect your emotional wellbeing during COVID here.