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Staycation As a Cure for Burnout

As I write this I’m sitting at home half-way through a week off of work.  This is a rare event for me.  A week of flexible time off where I go nowhere.  That being said a staycation is just what the doctor ordered to avoid burnout.

My Job is Stressful and Can Cause Burnout

I have a rather stressful job.  There I said it.  I enjoy my job, but that doesn’t mean it is not demanding or stressful at times.    Long hours of business travel, making decision after decision, and of course, the risk of making a mistake all weigh heavy.    Especially combined with recent imposter symptom feelings I was in danger of burning out with my new job.

Adventure Vacations can be Stressful

To go with work stress, I tend to prefer an action-packed vacation.  Now don’t get me wrong, a road trip around Iceland is a blast.   The anticipation of such a trip can pay real dividends to one’s health.   But it also can have it’s share of stress.  From planning, to flights, to long drives, to paying the bills when it’s all done.  It’s a good type of stress, but still probably not the cure for burnout.

The Need to Take a Break to Avoid Burnout

The problem is sometimes you really need to just take a break from it all.  No decisions, no deadlines, and no travel.   Which brings us to the holiday week of 2018 when I wrote this.    I took off the full week to spend with my family.  Besides a little bit of household cleaning, this one post, and paying a few bills I did absolutely nothing during this period.  And I loved it.

Make Time For Vacations

Now before I proceed it is important to point out.  Like most high-income professionals vacations are sometimes difficult for me to take.  I leave and when I come back I have a mountain of work to recover from.    In general, I have a mantra that if my managers don’t expect me to take a vacation, don’t provide it to me.  Also, my workload expectations are set based on past experience, so if I set a vacation precedent I should be fine come review time.  That doesn’t mean I don’t end up with extra work or hours on the return from the vacation, but it does mean I make time for me.

A Good Time for a Staycation

This particular break though was extra fortuitous.  My projects entered a lull where nothing was due.  Furthermore, some blockers arose that would not clear for a week or 2 which meant I could not work ahead.  As such there was no real excuse not to take a week off and spend it lazing about with the family.    Except perhaps my own preconceptions about taking time off while staying at nothing.

Are Staycations a Good Use of Time Off?

On some level, I have always felt a staycation was a waste of flexible time off.  After all, I only get 29 days off a year including holidays.  Shouldn’t I spend every waking moment of that time maximized to the things I enjoy?  The Caribbean is still warm in the winter and only a 5-hour flight away.  Well, while that may be true it’s also a day worth of travel time, several hours to book, and another few to travel hack.    That is a lot of work for someone who has been burning the candle at both ends writing a blog and working 50-60 hour weeks.

 A Time and Place for a Staycation

That got me thinking.    Is it really a waste of vacation if I took a staycation?  Well, it would be if I didn’t maximize the time for what I value.  But value has a time component.  A man in the desert will value water much more than someone who lives in the tropics during the rainy season.  Similarly to a man on the edge of burnout relaxing one’s self is priceless.  So it’s obvious at the beginning of my staycation the highest valued activities were taking naps, spending time with my family, not making decisions, and just generally kicking back.  So the staycation was the right choice for maximizing value now.  

I am Enjoying My Staycation

Honestly, even in a situation of less vacation time available, increased workload after the vacation, and the best alternative vacation in the world this particular week of staycation was the right decision for me.  After all, actual burn out would make future vacation time or work a moot point.    Better to provide some self-care now rather than pay the price later.  Had I gotten bored there are plenty of local spots to visit.  As I write this 1/2 way through I have yet to find myself bored.  We shall see what the second half of the week brings.

Have you ever been in danger of burnout?  Have you utilized a staycation to get yourself distressed?  

5 Comments

  1. Matt
    Matt January 14, 2019

    I am considering declaring a staycation whenever Cyberpunk 2077 hits store shelves. I did take a day off to read the last Harry Potter book straight through. Otherwise, I worry that without some goal, agenda, or idea in mind there are too many reminders of the day-to-day things to do to really make a difference in a staycation. I don’t think it’s enough to simply think of it as more weekend days in a row.

    • FullTimeFinance
      FullTimeFinance January 14, 2019

      Your right, if you get bored a relaxing vacation can be a bad thing. That being said since I have young kids I can’t remember the last time I was bored…

  2. Xrayvsn
    Xrayvsn January 14, 2019

    Some of the most relaxing times I have had is when I don’t do anything when I have a few days off.

    People often feel like they have to do something exotic or novel when they have vacation days to use but as you mentioned, sometimes, especially on short vacations, the hassle of travel only adds to the stress.

    • FullTimeFinance
      FullTimeFinance January 14, 2019

      Thanks for the comment as always Xrayvsn. What did you do with the holiday break?

      • Xrayvsn
        Xrayvsn January 16, 2019

        Actually I did stay at home and just spent time with family. I didn’t vacation much in 2018 for some reason. But 2019 already have 3 big trips in the book to more than make up for it 🙂

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