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Stepping back to step forward

Do you normally take vacation? While on vacation, are you tempted, or do you check your emails? Do you think about a certain client or file? Are you able to completely disconnect and immerse yourself in this pause from your everyday routine? Do you travel or stay home?

It might seem a little strange to talk about vacation when autumn is in the air. Perhaps you’ve already taken time away from work during the summer or your vacation is coming up very soon or, like me, you might still be wondering whether you should or should not take time off  as it has been an exceptionally bizarre year.

Due to certain commitments, personal and professional, it can be unrealistic to take vacation or to disconnect entirely for short or long periods of time. For some, it is simplest to find the right balance between staying in the loop at work, at least on a surface level, and incorporating moments of relaxation and adventure.

I have always felt guilty when taking vacation. What if my clients need me? What if my colleagues are overwhelmed with work and an extra hand could help alleviate the burden? It usually takes a few days for my brain and body to start letting go of work and I start thinking about returning to work several days before the end of vacation. As you can imagine, that does not leave a lot of time to decompress and replenish my energies.

A few months ago, I attended a group coaching session held by my colleagues Gabriela Nitu and Maryse Matta. The session turned into an animated discussion about taking time off work. There were no right or wrong answers, only thought-provoking perspectives such as vacation jumpstarting the process of letting go and creating space for what comes next or what we really want in our lives.

What happens when we do not take the time to re-set? We can no longer be the best version of ourselves. We no longer have room for what matters. Despite being someone who already struggles with setting time aside for a vacation, there is something soothing about taking a step back, reminding myself that work will be waiting when I return, and that it is necessary for me to take care of myself. Perhaps it really starts with giving ourselves permission and recognizing that we need and deserve to take time for self-care.

Have you taken time off lately?