Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ Blog - The Importance Of Taking Vacation
Nursing is a rewarding profession, but the empathy we feel for our patients and the care we put into our jobs can take its toll. That’s why it’s important to make sure we care for ourselves and take adequate breaks. Another way to ensure we are getting the rest and renewal we need is to make an annual or twice-yearly vacation a priority.
The effect vacations have on overall well-being is extensively documented. Studies suggest taking a holiday from work increases happiness, creates better sleep habits, boosts cardiovascular health, and reduces stress.
According to Expedia’s 2016 Vacation Deprivation report, Americans only took an average of 12 vacation days last year even though they had an average of 15 vacation days available. Many respondents said they felt guilty about asking for time off. With many nursing units understaffed and overextended, it’s easy to see how nurses may feel the same way. But taking time away from work is one of the best ways to gain perspective, feel more content, and gain appreciation for your job.
Here are some ways to make taking a vacation a reality when money and time off are tight.
Plan ahead. Since many other nurses may be requesting the same days off, especially around the holidays and summer vacation, putting in your request far in advance makes it more likely you’ll get what you ask for. If you know your family reunion is every other August or you like to go on a Fourth of July getaway, put a note in your calendar six months to a year ahead of time as a reminder to request your PTO. Plus, when an event is planned and travel is booked, you’re likely to actually take your vacation instead of letting a work crisis prevent you from going.
Put it in writing. If your team has a shared work calendar, enter your days off as soon as your supervisor approves them. Giving the rest of the staff a head’s up that you’ll be away will help everyone stay in the loop and be prepared.
Think off-season. Think of ways you can plan around popular vacation days, so you won’t be vying with your coworkers for coveted time. For example, if you don’t have school-aged kids, plan a trip in September — when the school year has started but the weather is still warm.
Do an overnight. If spending the money or taking the time to fly across the country or go on a European cruise isn’t feasible, consider a shorter, nearby trip. Try to stay at a hotel for a night or two — the change of scenery and sense of adventure can help you gain new perspective.
Try a staycation. If any type of trip isn’t in the cards right now, taking time off is still important. Use the time to explore your own city or do things you can’t do on a typical workday, like sleeping in or visiting a museum. Try to avoid cleaning the house or organizing your pantry and use the time to truly recharge.
Take a day trip. Even going away for the day and checking out a nearby city, town, or park can be a chance to stimulate your senses and come back to work replenished.
Think of fellow nurses. No, we don’t mean think of the workload that you’re leaving behind for the rest of the staff. Imagine one of your coworkers telling you they needed a vacation but wouldn’t take it because of the tasks they’d be leaving behind for you to do. You would likely treat that nurse with compassion and tell him or her to take the time and not worry about it. Turn that kind attitude on yourself for a change.
Consider the value of vacation. Still feeling guilty about taking vacation? Remind yourself that it’s important. The time you take away can help ward off burnout and refuel you so you can be a better nurse and coworker for years to come.
Do you feel guilty for taking vacation days? Join our vacation discussion to let us know how you combat those feelings or if you have a vacation on the books, tell us where you’re going on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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I clicked on this because I could use a vacation right now or even look forward to one. Work has been super stressful the past few months and I just need a getaway. I'm in a lot of credit card debt and I feel like going on a vacation right now/planning one will be kind of selfish and digging myself a deeper hole with my debt so my new goal is to pay off 75% of my debt before I can plan a vacation. I hope I'm doing the right thing. Advice is welcomed.
Vacation planned for end of August and I can't wait!! I will NOT be checking work emails either.