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Vacations! It’s hard to get enough of it. When we take a break from work, not only do we gain a break from our usual routines and get to relax with our families and friends, but we also get the benefit of being able to gain important insight on our problems in retrospect. When we come back, we dissipate feelings of being burned out and feel like we are ready to take on the world again with a new perspective.

But this was all before social distancing practices were implemented. While the immediate health benefits of social distancing are obvious, how we think about mental health in face of this pandemic also matters. Our roles in reducing and slowing the transmission of the virus by practicing social distancing and healthy habits is crucial in preventing our healthcare system from being overwhelmed and collapsing. But with no definitive end in sight to the stay-at-home orders, it is equally critical to be cognizant of the unanticipated mental health consequences mandated remote work has caused and the extent of how it can affect each of us, differently.

Is it possible to have a “successful” break from work when home becomes the workplace as social distancing policies continue to extend? It might not sound like your ideal vacation, but if you get the chance, now more than ever, it's important to ensure that you set time off of work to decompress and reflect on your well-being too.

The Vacation Paradox

I'm lucky. I'm in a safe space surrounded by those who care for my well being, but I still believe this goal is attainable. At first it may sound counterintuitive, “a vacation without the getaway” but keep an open mind, when done right, having a vacation from home can match a lot of the perks of travelling abroad without the drawbacks of paying a high price and commitment of long term planning.

Here's just some of the things us HDMZers have taken this time to explore activities to help us stay centered:

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Alexia Walleser decompresses by cutting screen time and expressing herself in thread and bread.
 

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Seth Schwartz used his day off and spent it all day in his (garden) bed.
 

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As April wrapped up, Emily Doherty took some scheduled time and began the work week with a green thumb because Mondays succ.
 

Being committed to your career and company is an admirable and important personal trait. But if you are feeling a lack of balance between work and home, it'll help you be better at your job to take some time off and enjoy a break. Whether you want to disconnect from the world or just tackle those tasks that can’t ever seem to get done, taking the time away from work and other responsibilities even with “social distancing” practices in place can feel rejuvenating.

An opportunity for a new normal on mental health

The importance of talking about mental health cannot be overstressed. While social distancing during this time is crucial, how we think about mental health in face of this pandemic also matters.

Is there a better way to minimize the impact of the virus while minimizing the consequences social distancing can place on our mental health? Are there any long-term consequences to our overall health and well-being?

What I love about medicine is that it's constantly evolving. Having conversations like these will develop a healthier and more resilient “new normal” for life after social distancing. As we move forward, we're learning mental wellness is a crucial component of overall health. I, and many others, believe it will lead to better things.