No matter how much you enjoy your work, it does you good to get away and have a change of scene from time to time. Annual leave is an integral part of our working lives. They’re stress-busters, give us something to look forward and a greater sense of control over our futures. The sooner you book your leave, the sooner you’ll be able to take advantage of the feelings of optimism that come with taking a break. Read on to learn about the many reasons why the early bird really does catch the worm.
Should I Use Up All My Leave Every Year?
Nearly half of Irish workers did not take their full annual leave entitlement in 2020. That’s according to Fáilte Ireland. Its study also found a third of the working population were unlikely to take all their holiday last year or were unsure whether they’d take it.
Experts believe not taking regular breaks has a negative impact on our mental health. Even short breaks can:
- Reduce stress and improve our mood
- Play a part in beating problems such as depression and anxiety
- Help by reducing the stress hormone cortisol
- Contribute to our happiness when we reminisce
Why Should I Plan Ahead for My Holiday?
There are plenty of reasons why it’s a good idea to plan ahead. By doing so, you will maximize the health benefits of your holidays.
First Come, First Served
In the healthcare sector, the needs of clients are continuous. They do not suddenly dry up at peak holiday times. That means many care companies have to approve leave on a “first come, first served” basis.
The earlier they can get leave applications from their employees, the more likely they’ll be able to let staff get away on the dates they want. Booking leave early reduces the stress on workers worried they may not get the period of leave they’re hoping for.
If it’s a popular time, what can really help is to collaborate with colleagues. Come up with a plan with teammates that ensures continuous cover. You can then run the plan past the admin office to make sure it’s fool-proof in order to get the approval you need.
Now Is Definitely the Right Time for a Break
Given the difficulties and restrictions we’ve all had to face over the past two years, it’s even more imperative that we now get away for the break we need.
The best way to do this is to book leave well in advance, particularly for peak seasons like Easter and the Summer months. Employers understand that workers who take holidays are more productive and perform better when they return to work.
It’s important to bear in mind that paid annual leave is not a perk of the job. It’s a health and safety measure.
The Earlier You Book, The More You Will Save
Plane tickets and holiday packages typically don’t get cheaper the nearer you get to the departure date. Flights tend to be the least costly when you make a booking several months in advance.
Peak times like Easter, July and August are bumper times for many destinations which rely on tourism for their economies. Everything from car hire to hotels tends to get more expensive the closer you get to your departure date.
When you book early it means you’re more likely to have more cash to spend while you’re away. Here are two travel sites to get you started with a plan of action right away:
- For flights and hotels: skyscanner.ie
- For car hire in worldwide destinations: doyouspain.com
Spread Your Holiday Over the Year
The positive effects of a holiday don’t begin when you jet off or arrive at your destination. They can kick in from the second you confirm your booking. The sooner you do this, the better it is for your mental health.
It might be tempting to want to take all your leave in one go. However, when you’re working hard continuously, there are clear benefits to taking several breaks spread out over the year.
Some mental health experts recommend taking a holiday at the beginning, middle, and end of the year. This stretches the positive effects of holidays evenly so that employees get maximum benefit.
Get Your Vitamin D Fix
All adults in Ireland should start taking vitamin D supplements due to disturbing levels of deficiency. That was the conclusion of a report by the Irish government last year. It found that older people were most at risk of deficiency.
We can get our vitamin D from the sun. We only need a short blast of unprotected sunlight for our bodies to produce the vitamin D we need. Once we have that, it’s important to use sunscreen.
Vitamin D helps to alleviate symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. It keeps bones, teeth and muscles healthy too. So, taking regular holidays over the year in places where there’s more regular sunshine is going to do our bodies and our minds a lot of good.
Do You Know How Much Annual Leave You Have?
Most employees have an entitlement to a minimum of 4 weeks’ paid annual leave each year.
You can calculate your annual leave by basing it on what we refer to as “the leave year.” This runs from April 1 to 31 March although some employers prefer to use the calendar year to calculate leave ie” from January 1 to December 31.
There are 3 main ways to calculate leave. As an employee you’ll be able to decide on any one of them:
- If you work at least 1365 hours in a year, you’re due the full 4 weeks’ leave
- If you work at least 117 hours in a week, you’re due 33.3 percent of a working week as leave
- You could take 8 percent of the hours you work in a leave year. That’s up to a maximum of 4 working weeks
Book Your Holiday Today!
So, now that you understand how much leave you have and the benefits of taking it, you’ve no excuses! Start planning now and get that next holiday booked.
Comfort Keepers has plenty more useful articles related to staying physically and mentally fit. Read more of these here in our News section.