While many Australians have cancelled holidays in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, staying at home is actually doing us more harm than good.
While many Australians have cancelled holidays in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, staying at home is actually doing us more harm than good.

Refusing to take a break right now could break you

This year has been incredibly tough with COVID-19 stripping away freedom, health and stability - and introducing the pressure of lockdowns, jobs threats, home schooling and mass uncertainty.

The stress of it all is beginning to settle in and health experts say Australians need to go on holidays or risk facing breaking point.

While that might feel impossible to some, with various travel restrictions and border closures still in place, life coach Emily Chadbourne says a holiday of some type is vital for our mental, physical and emotional health.

"Stress weakens our immune system and holidays act as a circuit breaker for our stress levels, resetting our body and mind," she says.

"When we don't take steps to rest and recuperate, we can put undue pressure on ourselves which can lead to stress related illness and diseases."

Holidays act as a circuit breaker for worn out systems. Picture: iStock
Holidays act as a circuit breaker for worn out systems. Picture: iStock

An exclusive Humaniti survey for News Corp's Go And Get It campaign showed 29 per cent of Australians are desperate to get away and 41 per cent want a holiday for their emotional wellbeing.

Many have cancelled holidays throughout the year and are banking their annual leave to use at a more opportune time to travel.

But Professor of Psychiatry at Monash University Jayashri Kulkarni says that's not the right approach. A holiday means giving yourself time away from constant life pressures to allow your body and mind to recharge.

"If you don't take a break, you are not giving your body the chance to actually reboot and start again," she says.

"Wherever you are in the world, it's been a stressful year and the situation has placed different burdens and stresses on us and it's important we can all have time away.

"Regardless of not being able to get on a plane and get to your desired destination, it's absolutely critical to have your out of office on and not take emails, phone calls and to just stop."

Petra Nowak with her children Peter, 6 and Mira, 2 relax at Palm Beach. Picture: Nigel Hallett
Petra Nowak with her children Peter, 6 and Mira, 2 relax at Palm Beach. Picture: Nigel Hallett

If you don't, you will be harming your health, says Chadbourne.

"When it comes to our mental health, switching off from the daily grind is a necessity," she says.

"Chronic stress effects our body's ability to resist infection, maintain vital functions and even avoid accidents. The more we relax, the healthier our immune system becomes."

Megan Bardsley, the emotional wellbeing manager at Queensland lifestyle retreat Gwingana is noticing more people coming to their facility to unwind.
She says in order to feel like you're on a holiday, you need to feel safe.

"Anytime we go through something like we're facing now, where there's that huge unknown, it's important to be able to step away and dedicate that personal time to yourself and do it in a setting that's supportive and you don't have to think about things," she says.

"People have been closed in and doing things at home, but there's something about stepping out and doing something different … often in those natural places and where there isn't the bustle."

While we may not be able to travel far, taking a break from everyday life is still essential. Picture: iStock
While we may not be able to travel far, taking a break from everyday life is still essential. Picture: iStock

Chadbourne acknowledges it's been hard to find that time out with boundaries between work and home more blurred than ever.

"Suddenly the home became the office and the classroom and for many the place they spent 23 hours of the day," she says.

"When we merge our living, learning and working spaces in this way, it can become really hard to switch off and relax."

But it's possible, she says, and you don't have to go far to take a break.

Chadbourne suggested trying new foods, reading a book, soaking in some vitamin D and avoiding social media.

"A change is as good as a rest, if you're housebound, use your break to declutter and move your furniture around," she says.

"Connect to your family, use your break to talk, ask questions and spend quality time with your love ones."

Originally published as How refusing to take a break right now could break you



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