A good habit in a world where even your watch or fridge have wifi connection is a conscious offline time. International research has shown that individuals who sometimes take a time off from social networks and the digital world can feel happier and less stressed. Regular offline activities such as spending time in nature or working out might help find and secure an inner balance of work and personal life.
It seems easy; simply to turn off or put down your phone and not care about a thing. But honestly: who can do that? Most people working online have problems ignoring notifications. The impulse to constantly check whether there is something going on can control us. But there is always something going on. The head of recruitment, Honza Fojtů, sums up his way of switching off for a while:
“I go by the maxim that it is up to me when and to what I reply. Social media only want our attention, time or to sell us something. All these applications and platforms are constantly making us reply and pick up the phone all the time. Statuses like ‘seen’, ‘sent’, ‘delivered’ are forcing us to reply instantly. And the people around us can start to push us and make the wrong conclusions: ‘Why, you saw it and haven’t got back to me = Are you mad at me?’”
And let’s be honest, many of us cannot switch off even on holidays. Research shows that many people who work on their holidays suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out). Researchers at the University of Michigan have discovered that a human being in a normal working life only needs an hour a day spent in nature for their brain to reboot. And as regards holidays, some corporations offer their employees financial contribution towards their holiday in addition to paid time off to make sure they really rest and do not work. They simply pay them to do nothing. And they are correct: according to research, the human brain needs at least two weeks of holidays in order for it to be able to switch off and regenerate.
And the benefits? They are mutual, of course – the employee rests, reduces their chance of burning out and of developing other mental issues. The employer gets a hard worker full of energy (well, the fulness also depends on who do you go with on the holiday) who is less likely to become demotivated, desiring a job change.
Another way of escaping the unceasing hum of technology can be a longer leave from work – a sabbatical.
Sabbaticals, that is a longer time off work, are still more popular. Today, it is one of the ways of escaping stereotypical every-day, especially working, life. Unless a person is living off an annuity or has inherited a large estate, they are most likely dependent on work which, while being a source of income, is often also a source of stress. The purpose of a sabbatical is to focus on personal development and on education. In general, there are three types of longer period off work: academic or work sabbatical and a longer leave after a burnout.
The idea of sabbatical comes from the academic environment. It is a longer leave from work intended for education, research, writing academic literature or external teaching. Therefore, it is not exactly a time off but it can disrupt the stereotype and one can “switch off” during a sabbatical.
From the academic world, sabbaticals reached the sphere of work, especially the corporate world. As a benefit, white collar workers can use a longer leave to focus on their own projects or to rest. Such sabbaticals are usually not paid, so only a few can take them on a whim. And honestly, not many a boss would tolerate that. It is therefore necessary to prepare for the leave and have a financial reserve that will cover expenses during the period without income.
Both abovementioned formats are not a time to lay about and they should contribute to the person going on sabbatical as well as to their employer, company or a business. People should return full of new knowledge, energy and ideas from a sabbatical, which are all good investments into the company or the academic department.
The third format can hardly be called a sabbatical, although it is ironically the most common situation. It concerns cases of people being unable to carry on anymore, the so-called burnouts, or their near instances. It usually includes the loss of motivation, stress, physical and mental exhaustion etc. That is a time for licking wounds and trying to gather one’s remaining sanity. All in order to be able to continue working or find the strength to change jobs.
Mental health care is no longer as big a taboo as it used to be before the pandemic. So why pass off necessary mental convalescence as a sabbatical? The term sabbatical means “creative leave”, which is the last thing on one’s mind when they’re running or have run out of juice. Is the notion of a longer “sick note” for mental reasons still so distant to us when burnout or the loss of motivation are quite frequent phenomena on the job market? And of course, it would be better to prevent it. The biggest catch is that often, the people around us notice the symptoms before we do. And once we become alert, it might already be too late.
But in fact, there is data showing that we can take care of our mental wellbeing quite easily. Research shows that it is good to switch off and go offline for at least one day in a week. Experts also recommend spending time in nature, even during the workday, to restore concentration ability. We can do these little things for ourselves and be ready for all new work challenges. Being offline is cool.
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