Taking Leave during the Pandemic

Elle Brown
Lots of people have let their annual leave accrue during Covid-19, for some it’s because they cannot apply for leave or have been discouraged. For others it’s because the idea of a staycation doesn’t appeal and there are limited options for going and staying somewhere within Australia, depending on the state or territory where you work or reside. It may even be the uncertainty of whether things may be cancelled that puts you off.

Lady reading a book in bed.Don’t delay

For all the reasons above I can understand why you might feel hesitant to book leave, it is all very understandable. But I think there are some really good reasons to apply for leave right now, you can re-energise, regain optimism and re-prioritise aspects of your life. It will give you a chance to refresh yourself, before you hit a point of burnout.

While you are on leave you might like to set yourself a task to fulfil, a skill to learn or a physical health goal. The Nurse and Midwife Support web page has some excellent suggestions for self-care on a budget.

Recreate a favourite holiday
It is possible to imagine where you might have holidayed and recreate it at home with clothes, cuisine and holiday routines. You could recreate a special meal or even the full travelling experience like this clever family.

A mental break from going to work is wonderful, so you can put that load down and reflect on change and adaptability.

Don’t feel guilty

Some people feel guilty about taking leave when everyone around them is exhausted and tired. It is vitally important that you take the time to relax and recharge as you need to practise self-care to be an effective carer for your clients/patients/team. Not recognising when you need to take leave is one of the signs of burnout.

Lots of nurses and midwives describe being unable to ask for leave because they feel it will inconvenience their team or manager or organisation. Particularly asking for Annual Leave as it is seen as the most discretionary one. It is not down to the individual to be concerned about who is going to relieve them in the team if they take leave, it is a healthier mindset to recognize that being refreshed makes you better able to provide care.

Feeling fatigued

Speaking with one of my peers recently she described weariness and fatigue despite adequate sleep, a feeling of lack of joy in her work that had been previously very fulfilling and a feeling of distance from her significant connections in life.

She described not having had a decent amount of time out of the workplace, off the roster for over a year. During this conversation she made plans to take some leave within the next calendar month.

So go ahead and plan your leave, you won’t regret it!

Remember you can call Nurse and Midwife Support anytime on 1800 667 877 and talk to a peer about health or work issues and even how to make that leave request.