It was 3 years ago when I made the decision to take a vacation in an all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic, a country where I knew no one. It was a deliberate choice.
I was nearing a breaking point with stress, and I could feel myself heading towards a full burnout.
Having worked many years in the health insurance sector, I was aware of the growing costs of employee benefits to employers, with absenteeism and disability due to mental health issues being the main cost drivers. I was also aware of the insidious nature of stress and burnout that leads employees down the path of absenteeism, ending in disability. I didn’t want to go there.
Consider these facts published in a Mercer Report.
- Absenteeism costs employers $16.6 billion annually and keeps 500,000 workers away from work each week due to mental health issues
- Stress affects 72% of all employees and one in four employees has left their job because of stress
- Disability strikes one in five Canadians due to a psychological health problem or illness in any given year. Psychological health problems — the number one cause of disability — costs the economy $20 billion per year.
Off I went on vacation, making it clear to my colleagues and network that I was going to be incommunicado for two weeks. I stuck to my guns, giving myself a fair shot at complete relaxation and disconnection from social media, the Inboxes, the text messages and the daily grind. I did this before I experienced burnout.
I came back to Canada, fully rested and recharged to go back to work. My mind was clear, having gained a wholesome perspective on life and work and on the things that could wait.
That was summer 2019.
Little did I or anyone know what was to come in 2020. That said, 2020 was the most challenging but by far the most rewarding year of my career – leading a large nonprofit organization that serves vulnerable seniors and their caregivers.
I remember working long hours in 2020 to ensure that our organization would continue offering its services. It was important that my team members were supported and provided with the tools to enable them to work efficiently throughout the pandemic. They were given time-off needed for self-care. At the end of many days I was tired, but not depleted. This is because I frequently stopped myself to take breaks before moving on to new tasks, projects and meetings.
Without the perspective gained from the 2019 vacation, I am convinced that I would not have been able to make it through 2020.
Time away is time well invested.
Disconnection prepares you for a better reconnection.
This is a reminder to take time for your own self-care before it’s too late. Don’t be forced into the downward spiral of absenteeism and disability. Self-care is the best act of self-love that benefits you, your loved ones, and the people you serve.
See the BIG picture. Focus on what’s important.
Camille N. Isaacs Morell is a business executive who has a vision of a better world where everyone has the opportunity to be better and do better. Preventive healthcare is a cause she cares about. She passionately believes that an engaged and empowered workforce thrives in an environment of wellness, which is key to organizational excellence and success.