Why is it important to mentally switch off from work?

Patricia Lucero our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 25 March 2024

I’ve recently returned energized and revitalized from a two-week trip of a lifetime to Cape Town, South Africa. I don’t say that to boast, but rather I want to illustrate the paramount importance of taking a complete break - I’ve found it hugely beneficial both personally and professionally.


In today's fast-paced and hyper-connected world, it's become more difficult to disconnect from work. The boundaries between personal and professional lives have blurred, with smartphones and constant access to emails and work-related tasks. I’ve overstepped this boundary in the past - it’s easy to do.


But in this article, intentionally written during Mental Health Awareness Month, I’ll explore the advantages of pressing reset and the positive impact it can have on overall wellbeing and productivity.

5 benefits of a true break from work

My journey to South Africa was long - and the jet lag was real - but I didn’t check my emails or work voicemail. And I didn’t feel guilty about it! Instead, I spent time checking things off my bucket list, like swimming with penguins at Boulder Beach, going on safari and hiking up Table Mountain.


This trip also gave me time to reflect on what’s important in my life and how to prioritize those things. I’ve had creative and fresh ideas for work, and came back excited to do things I’ve been putting off.


But it’s not just about me as an employee or an individual - my break has really made a difference for Hanover, too. Here’s how…

1. Enhanced productivity and creativity

You might assume that working longer hours and staying constantly connected to work would lead to increased productivity. Research suggests otherwise. Multiple studies have shown that regularly taking time off and completely disconnecting from work leads to improved cognitive function, increased creativity and enhanced problem-solving abilities. 


By allowing employees to reset and recharge, businesses can actually foster an environment that promotes innovation and fresh perspectives. This results in greater productivity when they return to work.


2. Improved mental and physical wellbeing

Work-related stress and long hours can harm both your mental and physical health. Burnout, anxiety and various other stress-related conditions are on the rise. 


Taking a complete break from work allows you to focus on your wellbeing, engage in self-care activities and nurture relationships with family and friends. When employees are in a better mental and physical state, they’re more likely to bring their best selves to work. This results in higher job satisfaction and reduced employee churn rates for businesses.


3. Enhanced work-life balance

Achieving a healthy work-life balance is a struggle. By encouraging employees to take a break and disconnect from work, businesses can play a pivotal role in helping them strike a balance. 


When you fully disconnect, you can prioritize personal and leisure activities, spend quality time with loved ones and engage in hobbies and interests that bring you real joy. This renewed balance translates into higher job satisfaction, increased loyalty and a more positive work environment overall.

4. Strengthened focus and concentration

Constant interruptions and distractions, such as emails, phone calls and notifications, can significantly hinder your focus and concentration. 


By encouraging a complete switch off, businesses enable their employees to detach from these distractions, so they can regain their focus and improve their ability to concentrate on tasks. This leads to better quality work and more efficient completion of tasks.

5. Enhanced engagement and loyalty

When businesses prioritize wellbeing and work-life balance, it fosters a sense of loyalty and engagement. Employees who feel valued and supported are more likely to perform above and beyond for their organization. 


By encouraging people to press reset and disconnect from work, employers send a powerful message that their employees' wellbeing matters. This can lead to a boost in loyalty, higher retention rates and a more positive company culture.

What to do before leaving for vacation

Of course, it would be irresponsible to just leave for vacation with projects half-finished or people not knowing you’ll be away. Part of switching off is ensuring a smooth transition.


I made sure all my work projects were completed or properly handed off, contacted my clients to let them know who to reach out to if they needed anything and set my out-of-office

notices. I boarded that plane with complete peace of mind!


It’s also a good idea to have a physical tidy up of your desk or workspace before you leave, especially if you have paperwork or documentation that your colleagues might need in your absence.


You could even create email filters or rules to automatically sort incoming emails. This will help you stay organized and ensure important emails are not overlooked, and you’ll get back to a tidy inbox.


Finally, mentally disconnect from work as much as possible before your vacation. Set realistic expectations for your absence and trust your colleagues to handle tasks efficiently. Clear your mind of work-related worries and focus on enjoying your time off.

What to do when you’re back at work after vacation

Transitioning back to work after a vacation requires patience and a plan. By prioritizing key tasks and urgent requests, reconnecting with colleagues and easing yourself back into your routine, you can effectively regain momentum and productivity while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.


Are you seeking career advice or a new role? Contact me directly and let’s set up a call.

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