Before smartphones and email, Americans had no trouble enjoying holidays in peace. Once gone, employees were “out of sight, out of mind.” Times certainly have changed! Today, many professionals are plagued with “nomophobia,” the fear of not having a mobile phone, so an unplugged vacation is unthinkable. Between “just one more call” and “a quick email and I’m done,” vacation days fly by with half your brain still stuck behind your desk.
Sometimes it’s not the job but your company that creates vacation anxiety. For example, when your boss isn’t pinging you hourly, you might think, am I missing critical decision-making? Will my company think me less committed? Will my vacation disrupt chances for that promotion?
Fortunately, more employers than ever are recognizing the struggles people have using their PTO. They know that vacation is essential to a productive and healthy workforce. The positive effects of PTO, increased motivation, mood, and productivity, far outweigh the costs of chronically stressed employees with lower performance and higher sick leave rates.
However, PTO benefits are fleeting if workers don’t do their part and leave the office. So, stop feeling guilty for vacationing, especially if you are a millennial! Here are some steps to help you unplug on your well-deserved vacation.
Did you know that the average adult checks a smartphone 96 times daily? And that 39% of kids wish their parents spent less time on their phones (and probably more time with them)? Family vacations are the perfect excuse to unplug and begin to decouple from the smartphone dependency impacting so many people’s mental health.
If traveling without a cell or laptop would start a riot, there are many options for vacationers who wish to avoid their tech. Plan an off-grid escape like backpacking or camping. Rent a remote beach house, book a cruise, and don’t buy the internet plan. Travel internationally but take only one smartphone for navigation and emergencies. If you must connect, join early risers at an internet café for a brief chat with the office before starting the day’s adventures. Going phone-free on vacation might seem aspirational, but one family who traveled without reported challenges, yes, but ultimately more social contact, creativity, engagement, better family time, and greater self-awareness.
Now realistically, CEOs, senior executives, and critical staff may not be able to disconnect while on vacation entirely. However, consider that a digital detox, even briefly, has life-changing effects behaviorally and neurologically. Researchers and neuroscientists have seen improvements in memory, sleep, human interaction and bonding, and even posture. Less screen time also helps leaders recommit to healthy habits like exercise, mindfulness, and relationship building, destressing activities so crucial to effective leadership. Just remember, if you hire good people, they’ll have your back so you can unplug, rest, and recharge without worry.
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