Teresa Budworth: When you need a break, take a proper one!

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Summer (what summer?) is over and most of us are now back from our annual break. But what about the one in four people who, according to healthcare provider BUPA, don’t take a substantial holiday of a week or more?

BUPA say people who don’t take a break put their physical and mental health at risk. I agree. Getting away from work, and I mean really getting away from work, can make us feel better.

A few years ago my other half and I bought a canal boat called the “Speckled Hen” (not named after the beer.) This summer we’ve been located in Cheshire, Shropshire and North Wales. Beautiful parts of the world and making our way slowly from no particular place to another can be very relaxing.

Now I travel around quite a lot in my work and it’s important that I keep in contact with people both inside and outside of NEBOSH. Generally I find this fairly straightforward. Either my laptop or smartphone keeps me in touch in most major towns and cities anywhere in the world.

Parts of the canals we visit aren’t like this! A mobile signal can be poor at best, or sometimes non-existent. I confess that when we first started taking our boating trips I found this hard to handle. What if something urgent or hugely important came up? What if decisions needed to made and I wasn’t around?

The truth is I’ve learned to love my watery ‘escape from it all.’ When I return to work, I find everything is still there and all is generally running smoothly. As for me, I feel refreshed. OK, I have a few extra emails to trawl through, but generally the benefits of having a genuine break from work appear to far outweigh any problems that arise.

BUPA’s research suggests that more than a third of us (34%) feel better able to cope with stressful situations after at least a week off work, and almost half (47%) sense a noticeable improvement in their mental well-being.

A few years ago the Chartered Management Institute carried out a survey and found that around a quarter of people check their work emails every day while on holiday. I’ll admit, this was me before the canal boat holidays. Thanks to the “Speckled Hen” I’m not like that anymore and I feel a whole lot better because of it.

So do your staff a favour. Encourage them to take a proper break and do your best to ensure they’re left alone. They’ll be healthier and most likely more productive when they get back, which is better all round.

About Teresa Budworth

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About Teresa Budworth

Teresa Budworth, Chief Executive of the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health

During a 30 year career in health and safety, she has specialised in safety consultancy; working with a number of Boards of Directors on implementing safety governance within large and diverse organisations. Her work on competence, education and training culminated in her appointment as Chief Executive of NEBOSH; the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health, in 2006.

Prior to joining NEBOSH, Teresa combined management of Norwich Union Risk Service’s (now Aviva) Consultancy operation with her post as a non-executive Director and Trustee of NEBOSH and was Senior Examiner for Diploma Part One from its inception in 1997. She is a Visiting Senior Teaching Fellow and member of the Examination Board for post graduate courses in Occupational Health at the University of Warwick’s Medical School. She is a member of RoSPA’s National Occupational Safety and Health Committee and also serves on the judging panel for RoSPA’s annual occupational safety and health awards. She is a member of IOSH Council.

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