Valuing (and Maximizing) Our Time Away

* This post was originally featured on The OOHLALA Blog.

As the holiday season approaches, many of us will be taking some well-deserved time off from work, classes, and so forth. Unfortunately, this may be some of the only time we take off during the year. Which is why it’s important to use this time to its full advantage. I’ve found that adopting certain personal habits can help me to make the most of my time off.

Spread time throughout the year

Some people only take time off when it is given to them through holidays or forced upon them by others. I personally have taken the stance of giving myself long weekends and “mental health days,” throughout the year.

It helps to sprinkle time off throughout the year in order to minimize the impact of daily stress on your physical and mental well being.I always enjoy my random days off during the week even if they just help me get errands done. Giving myself this periodic time off allows me to better focus on the work I need to do during my regular hours.

When you’re away, be fully present

Unplugging fully from our work lives while we’re away is important, since any part of us that still lingers back at the office is a part that can’t fully enjoy the experience of being away. This means turning off notifications, putting our phones on “do not disturb”, and not checking our email.

I know I’m not perfect with this, but I’m trying to be better, especially whenever I leave for an extended period of time. Trust your colleagues to be able to take care of things in your absence. Also, the more work you can get done ahead of time will help you be mindful of where you are in the moment. Asking for help is also important. In return, you can help others out when they need the same from you later on.

Share the time with others

Another thing I value about having time off  is sharing this time away with others. You can maximize the emotional benefit of getting out of your routine by taking a trip with a family member, partner, or good friend and deepening those connections. It can be something you share and remember for a long time to come. It will be as fulfilling, if not more so, than if you just went on your own.

I always appreciate the opportunity to see friends that have moved across the country. It’s great to be able to share time with them after not having seen them for awhile and it’s also an opportunity to see new places which helps to broaden my horizons.

Another point here is to take pictures of your trips and time away to document the experience so you can share it with others. In the past few years I have become more sentimental about major life experiences. Having some artifacts and photos from my adventures has allowed me to share those experiences with others.You don’t need to share photos on social media at the exact time you take them, (see the previous point of unplugging), but sharing memories with friends and family allows us to reap the benefits of our journeys time and time again.

There are many benefits to taking time away from our normal routines. We can keep in touch with old friends, make new connections, experience amazing new places, and most important of all, we allow ourselves to grow and relax. This can help us to do our best work for our students and role model positive behavior for them. I hope you can take some time off soon—even if it is only a long weekend—to be present somewhere outside of your routine.

Here’s to nourishing, renewing, and growing ourselves all year long!