Downtime in December may not be to your benefit

Putting off downtime until the very end of the year means you may not be getting the full benefits of your time off

Those few days of leave that you’re allocated every year are what many full-time employees live for. Yet there are some who don’t feel comfortable taking time out during the year. The Entrepreneur says one reason people keep plugging away all year is because they have “vacation shame”.

Vacation shame is described as a feeling workers have that causes them to forfeit hard-earned downtime. According to the Entrepreneur, this is prevalent among millennials. A lot of people will wait to take their leave in December, but you may not be doing your body any good if you choose to do so.

HR specialist Hope Lukoto says your body is running on adrenaline and stress, and it takes time for it to come down from the high.

“If you haven’t taken leave throughout the year, your body won’t know whether it’s coming or going,” she says. “Then in the second week, your body starts to realise that this is for real, then it chills. In the third week, your body says it’s trying to reconnect to the brain but then you have to go back to work.”

Lukoto says that this is a situation in which the body was given too much rest at one time, and the benefits seem like a drop in the ocean. However, if had you been taking time out consistently during the year, your body would not be overwhelmed by the sudden downtime.

READ MORE: 7 ways to keep your little ones happy this festive season

The benefits of time out have been well documented, and pushing through extreme exhaustion and burnout in the name of “manning up” comes at a cost, both for the individual and the company they work for.

Lukoto says people are assigned leave for various reasons. The first one is for your health. “For you to recover, to recuperate, you have to take time out for yourself. You have to balance your life,” she explains.

She adds that this time off also allows you to do things like renewing your driver’s licence and going for a medical check-up.

The second reason is productivity. Lukoto says that the point of being employed is to contribute to work in a meaningful way. “Part of being present is being productive and being highly engaged with your work, and when you are tired you can’t.” When you’re tired and burnt out, what might have taken you six hours will take you double the time.

READ MORE: South Africans taking less leave these holidays

The third reason for people needing to take time out is risk management, Lukoto says.

“If you don’t take leave, one day you may drop to the floor with an illness or a stroke.” This means the company is operating with one less worker, which is why it would rather you take a break.

May people self-medicate to make themselves feel better. However, Lukoto says that if we allowed our bodies to recover, there would be less need to take medication.

“There is a certain guy who advocated that for every nine days worked, you take a day off, and after every 21, you take a long weekend off. That way your body doesn’t get to a point where it crashes and takes longer to recover. It’s always in a state where it’s taking time to rest and recover.”

Additional reporting: Entrepreneur