How to unplug this Christmas

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How often do you check emails during vacation? Are you continually texting or emailing employees on the weekends? Do you plan on jumping into any Google docs on Christmas Eve?

Even if momentarily, when we continue to work through the holidays, we miss out on why they exist. If you want to work and lead well, you need to learn how to unplug well.

From the eyes of the rest of the world, Americans appear not to appreciate vacation.

The U.S. continues to be the only advanced economy that doesn’t guarantee employees paid vacations and holidays. Yet, according to the No-Vacation Nation report, even when employees do get vacation time, they don’t always use it.

Many of us struggle not only with not knowing how to unplug from work but tend to operate in the belief that to be a hard worker, we must always be working. The American Institute of Stress conducted a study that found 83% of Americans suffer from work-related stress. Even short vacations are proven to have a lasting effect on us for months.

We don’t know how to value the free time we have, or what it means to vacate from work. Approaching this upcoming Christmas and New Year’s holidays, let’s learn how to unplug from work and be fully present for all that this season has for us. 

Here are four ways to unplug from work and unwind this Christmas season:

  1. Disconnect from work so you can reconnect with those around you. If you’re never disengaged from your career, you’re never fully engaged with the people in your life. It is vital for our mental, spiritual and emotional health to disconnect from our daily work to connect with others. Life goes by so quickly, and when we’re working most days of the year, we are already giving the majority of our attention to our careers. Take this time to focus on those who mean the most to you.
  2. Create and establish boundaries. Boundaries help us to get more out of life. Learn to set firm boundaries in your life. Turn off your phone at a certain time of day, place your laptop out of sight each holiday and vacation, or set up an automated “out of office” reply with the next date you will be available. 
  3. Don’t give in to the urge to remain isolated. Some of us have likely experienced cabin fever through these last months. But for introverts, some have truly enjoyed the excuse to stay in and remain to themselves. Depression and anxiety rates continue to rise, as many of us stay in isolation. But community, family and friends bring us joy, get us out of our heads and give us life. Rather than winding up on the couch, watching more Netflix or preoccupied on social media, get out. Invest yourself in time with loved ones, say yes to that dinner invite or go out for a hike with friends. Make the most of this holiday time.
  4. Help your team unplug. As stated above, Americans do not have the luxury of vacation time that many other countries have. But there are still many organizations and businesses that offer their teams sufficient vacation time and personal days. Employees can often be reluctant to take time off, due to fear that they may not appear to be working hard enough. Set a precedent of making time for yourself and your family, and make sure you’re giving your team adequate time.

By creating a life where you are never unplugged from work, you not only sabotage yourself but also those you are leading. Your leadership sets an example in the office and outside of it. The truth is, if you’re not taking personal time yourself, your teams will not feel free to take time off.

The holiday times are to enrich our relationships, memories, self-development and our lives. If we want to work and lead better, we must begin to unplug better.

After such a tumultuous year, let us not let these holidays pass by without genuinely embracing the time this Christmas offers us.

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