Most of us haven’t taken leave since COVID-19 hit. Our plans got cancelled thanks to lockdown and the idea of taking leave only to stay at home doesn’t exactly make you want to cross the days off the calendar. However, it is nearly half-way through the year, we don’t know when lockdown will end, and we all need a break at some point! So it’s worth working out how to do it well. Here are some ideas on how to do it and make it as restful as possible.
Our brains love adventurous holidays because novelty produces dopamine. This sense of change has long term mental health benefits because it gives you a fresh perspective. So, to make your indoor leave as effective as possible, this is the principle we have to work with – getting that vacation feeling by breaking your patterns.
Here are some ‘holiday hacks’ to try, as well as some things to definitely avoid!
“Change is as good as a holiday”
Here are some quick ideas on how to make the most of your leave:
- As a start, spend some time thinking about what gives you energy and then plan how to do that thing.
- Once you’ve thought of some things, actively map out when you’re going to do them. If you leave it up to whimsy, it’s very easy to just fall back into your normal routine, and that’s not what you want.
- To really recharge, get creative. Make it, paint it, plant it, dance it, sing it, play it, carve it, draw it, plan it, solve it, sculpt it, build it, write it, code it – whatever floats your boat. Doing something creative is a powerful way to change your thought patterns.
Do not touch your laptop (unless you’re using it for something fun)
As I mentioned before, the best way to get the most out of your time off is to plan fun/relaxing things to do. Don’t do something just to ‘pass the time’. The goal is to enjoy your leave and make it count. If that means doing absolutely nothing, great, but don’t just watch the next episode of something mediocre. Be intentional.
Another trap a lot of us tend to fall into is telling colleagues that they can contact us while we’re on leave because “I’ll just be at home, after all.” But being half-present doesn’t recharge you and will make you feel like you’ve wasted your leave when it comes to an end. So, don’t check your emails or your Slack at all.
Pro tip: If you have the Slack app on your phone, move it off your main home screen and disable notifications to avoid the temptation.
Some crazy ideas
If you need some inspiration, here are some wacky things I found to do during my time off:
- Do some armchair travelling by going on these virtual tours or just ‘walking around’ the Google Maps of the places you want to visit.
- Watch this documentary series about Astronomy to get some perspective – Carl Sagan’s Cosmos.
- Call your grandparents and ask them these questions. Or play Scrabble!
- DANCE like nobody is watching. Seriously. Put on some hit songs or banging sets, loud, and give yourself 20 minutes to get into it.
- Learn how to DJ with this free trial software and these video tutorials. (It’s what I did to produce the above mentioned ‘banging sets’).
- Buy some watercolour paint on Takealot and learn how to paint from YouTube.
- Order a ceramic painting kit from Clay Cafe for delivery if you’re in Cape Town.
- Download a video game and enjoy getting into the flow state. Just remember to give your neck and back a rest.
- Read a gripping book that has absolutely zero productivity hacks in it.
- Put up a tent or build a blanket fort and sleep in there. (Takealot has great deals on fairy lights).
- If you have kids and partners to entertain, you could turn your house into an escape room, museum, art gallery, jungle gym, reading nook, or more.
- Turn your house into a cinema through creative use of lights, seating and popcorn, and take your person to the movies. (I cut out a SnapScan code for a food fund from a flyer so that we could pay for movie tickets.) Don’t forget to get dressed up and treat it like a real date – because it is!
- Make your house feel like a hotel
If you have any ideas or ‘holiday hacks’ of your own, please share them in the comments below!