Personal Growth

Have Staycations Lost Their Allure? Take a Resilience Day

Was a time not long ago, when the idea of a planning a staycation sounded fun. A welcome opportunity to use Personal Time Off (PTO) for staying home to “Marie Kondo” the closets, attack clutter piles, paint a room or catch up with the DIY projects we’d been wanting to do all year but were too tired to tackle on the weekends. Okay, so even if it wasn’t a trip to some remote or exciting place, the notion of a few uninterrupted days at home during the workweek with no meetings, emails, or office commuting was really attractive and appealing.  

Staycation

That was then. Now it’s 2020, and along comes the pandemic. No commutes to the office. No trips to…anywhere. The arrival of a global health crisis has suddenly and dramatically shifted all our work, school, and social paradigms.

At Birkman, we rank among the fortunate ones. We have been able to lean heavily on technology to keep everyone working and productive. The result is that now we are at home. We are all staying at home—all the time, every day since March. It has become July, and we are still staying home, working virtually. After so many months of Zoom calls and working from home, I’ve heard employees say they’re struggling to separate work time/space from home time/space. They say that frankly, “Friday afternoon when I’ve been home all week, doesn’t feel like the big deal it used to be.” As weekends continue to blur into working days, it can become more difficult to keep a sharp definition between our “working hours/space” and our home environment with its normal share of distractions and demands. Our home is now our workplace, and for some of us, we are in the middle of an endless staycation.

At the end of the day, what we all want is to successfully cope, stay fresh, and keep finding ways to remain productive. In other words, what we want is resilience. Resilience is the ability to effectively cope with challenging life or work situations. And to prevent the slow-drip of cumulative burnout, it also becomes more critical than ever to be intentional with daily self-care, affirming self-talk, and becoming resilient.

We can tackle self-care in a variety of ways that are unique to each of us as individuals. One of the ways we recommend this at Birkman is to go straight to one of your top Birkman Interests, especially if that area of interest is outside of the daily job responsibilities. Whatever it happens to be for you, diving into one of your dominant interests “just for fun” is incredibly restorative.

Birkman Interests

As the pandemic drags well into the summer with no signs yet of going away, I often hear “Sure, I could I take a few days of PTO, but where do I go when the novelty of a staycation isn’t fun anymore—they’re just a distant memory now?”  

For our own staff, and even for myself, I see scant PTO or vacation time being taken, which concerns me. I understand why this is happening, but months of all-virtual demands have prompted me to re-think the importance of carving out time for work-distancing and not just social-distancing.

We all need some genuine downtime, some “mental health days” to refresh in whatever ways best nurture our souls. Even if we’re not able to fly to the mountains or sign up for a cruise, deciding to unplug from technology for a while and calling this a “Resilience Day” can be super productive for health and well-being. A “Resilience Day” will help you focus on yourself and your goals, relax, and maintain your stress.

Many of us, while in quarantine, have already taken the “stuck at-home time” to tackle our closets, organize the kitchen pantry or plant better gardens. But most of us squeezed that in between jumping on Zoom calls and sending out emails. The reality was that we were still plugged in and still working every day. As CEO, I appreciate these valiant efforts. This is exactly what got us through the first months of the Covid-19 crisis, but now, in these hazy, crazy, lazy days of summer, it’s an ideal time to focus on ways to refresh yourself. These past months have been an extraordinarily challenging time. An exhausted and burned out employee is dangerous for the person and useless to the organization. So please practice being kind to yourself by permitting yourself to take a breather. You have earned it.

Things will get better than they are right now. In the meantime, pandemic or no, it is summertime, and it’s supposed to be our vacation season. Practice cultivating resilience by setting aside a week or at least a few days to totally disengage from work. Carving out a “safe-cation” for yourself to focus on whatever interests or non-work activities (or sleep!) that best restores you will help prevent burnout and build resilience. Best of all, it will strengthen your immune system--just what the doctor ordered!

About the Author | Sharon Birkman Fink

Sharon Birkman began her role as Birkman International’s President and CEO in 2002, becoming Chairman & CEO in 2019. As the daughter of company founder and influential industrial-organizational psychologist, Dr. Roger W. Birkman, Sharon cultivated her deep expertise in human perception and organizational behavior through her lifelong interest in The Birkman Method. Before succeeding Dr. Birkman as CEO, Sharon served in several roles including VP Corporate Relations, Training, and Career Coaching. Sharon’s leadership has been instrumental ushering in a new era of product development, technology, and training initiatives during a time of unprecedented growth. In this period, Sharon and the business have been recognized with a multitude of awards. These include EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2016, the Women President’s Organization’s Mary Lehman MacLachlan Award for Economic Empowerment in 2017, Houston’s Best and Brightest Places to Work For from 2014-2019, National Best and Brightest Places to Work For (2014-2018), the Houston Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business Award in 2017 and 2018, and as a Houston Power 50 Woman Leader in 2018.