How to make the most of your annual leave

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Are you sick of coming back from annual leave and saying ‘I need a holiday from my holiday’? Your time off should be the perfect opportunity to unwind, recharge, and come back to work feeling refreshed and ready to tackle anything.

As a hard-working employee, there can be pressure to make the most of your time off. With these strategies in mind, you can ensure you’re really making the most of that well-deserved break — whether it’s a staycation at home, or a dream trip abroad.

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Why is making the most of your annual leave so important?

It’s easy to think that grinding through endless work hours and skipping breaks will make you a productivity mastermind. It won’t. Before we jump right in, let’s take a minute to remember why taking time to relax is super important. 

Rest and relaxation has countless benefits for your mind, body and soul. We’re talking: improved mental health, increased motivation and focus, and just generally feeling more well rested. Who doesn’t want that? And more importantly, who doesn’t deserve that? Trick question. We all do!

Improved mental health

Research by the Harvard Business Review found that 94% of vacations result in employees returning to work with a more positive attitude. 

The data tells us that going on holiday increases our happiness, motivation and success at work —but we don’t always listen. In fact, over 50% of Australians say they are struggling with the mental health impacts of feeling burnt out from work. If you’re in that majority, you know all too well the physical and emotional effects that can come from work-induced fatigue. A weekend (yes, even a long weekend) simply isn’t enough time to decompress for most people. 

Taking a well-deserved holiday will give you more time to kick back, find your zen, and improve your mental health in the long term.

Increased motivation and focus

Want to be more productive at work? Take your leave. 

Annual leave has been shown to increase productivity by 40%, which means once we give ourselves some TLC, we return to work more motivated and focused than before.

When we work for extended periods without taking time off, it’s easy to become burned out and lose sight of our goals. However, when we take a break and step away from work, we give ourselves the chance to relax and recharge our minds and bodies. This time away can help us reset our perspective and come back to work with renewed energy and focus. 

Overall wellbeing

Annual leave can give us the opportunity to pursue hobbies and catch up with people that we may not have time for during our regular work schedule

Engaging in activities that we enjoy can help to boost our mood and overall wellbeing. In fact, studies show that engaging with a hobby gives you a whopping 272% higher odds of recovering from depression. This in turn can have a positive impact on our performance at work. By prioritising our personal lives, we can improve our quality of life and our overall physical and mental wellbeing.

Ready to take a break? For a limited time, you can earn 5% cashback when you book flights through Virgin Airlines. All you need to do is make a booking through the ‘Benefits’ tab of the Swag app. Available May 29-31! 

4 tips to make the most of your annual leave:

Disconnect from work

It can be tempting to check your work emails, Slack, Teams messages or take work calls during your time off. Don’t. Being always-on defeats the purpose of taking a holiday in the first place. 

Make a conscious effort to disconnect from work and resist the urge to check your work devices. That means hitting ‘do not disturb’ on the work phone, adding an OOO auto-response and doing a handover of your work before taking time off.

Practice self-care

Time off provides an opportunity for you to prioritise your physical and mental health. This can include getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising, and practising mindfulness or meditation. 

We’ve all heard how great meditation is for us, but what does it actually do? Well, meditation has been shown to help people stress less, focus more and even sleep better. It doesn’t take long: just a few minutes a day will help. 

Pursue hobbies and interests

Taking time off can provide an opportunity for you to pursue hobbies and interests that you may not have time for during the work week. This can include reading, gardening, cooking, travelling, or trying a new hobby.

Fun fact: Lin-Manuel Miranda came up with the idea for his famous musical Hamilton while on vacation. He said, “It’s no accident that the best idea I’ve ever had in my life – perhaps maybe the best one I’ll ever have in my life – came to me on vacation.” He then joked that this justifies any vacation he wants to take for the rest of his life. If Lin-Manuel Miranda can vacay, why can’t you?

Connect with loved ones

Time off can also provide an opportunity for you to connect with your loved ones and strengthen relationships. This can include spending time with family and friends, organising a family holiday, or planning a weekend getaway.

Remember, your time off is precious, and it’s essential to use it wisely. By following these tips, you can make sure you come back to work feeling rested, recharged, and ready to take on anything that comes your way.

Key public holiday dates in 2024 

Want to hack your leave and get the best bang for your buck —for the least amount of time off? Take a look at the public holidays for your state this year. Hot tip: if you do it early enough, you can get your leave requests in before your coworkers. It’s a win!

Even better: we’ve crunched the numbers and figured out how to get a 12 day holiday during the 2024 Christmas holiday period —with just 5 days of annual leave! Here’s what you need to do:

Take off these dates:

23 December

24 December 

27 December 

30 December

31 December

You’ve now got a 12-day break, from Saturday 21 December to returning to work on Thursday, 2 January. Nice one! 

Want to take leave before Christmas? Work-life balance should happen all year round! We’ve got all 2024 public holidays listed…now all that’s left to do is plan your next trip! 

Looking to get away? We’ve got you covered. For a short time only, Swag users get 5% cashback when you book a flight with Virgin Airlines. All you need to do is make a booking through the ‘Benefits’ tab of the Swag app. Available from 29-31 May. 

Key Public Holiday Dates for Australia

1 Jan Mon New Year’s Day National
10 Jan Wed Devonport Cup TAS
26 Jan Fri Australia Day National
12 Feb Mon Royal Hobart Regatta TAS
28 Feb Wed Launceston Cup TAS
4 Mar Mon Labour Day WA
5 Mar Tue King Island Show TAS
11 Mar Mon Labour Day VIC
11 Mar Mon Canberra Day ACT
11 Mar Mon Adelaide Cup Day SA
11 Mar Mon Eight Hours Day TAS
29 Mar Fri Good Friday National
30 Mar Sat Day following Good Friday National except TAS & WA
31 Mar Sun Easter Sunday National except NT, SA & TAS
1 Apr Mon Easter Monday National
2 Apr Tue Easter Tuesday * TAS
25 Apr Thu Anzac Day National
6 May Mon Labour Day QLD
6 May Mon May Day NT
27 May Mon Reconciliation Day ACT
3 Jun Mon Western Australia Day WA
10 Jun Mon King’s Birthday National except QLD & WA
5 Jul Fri Alice Springs Show Day NT
12 Jul Fri Tennant Creek Show Day NT
19 Jul Fri Katherine Show Day NT
26 Jul Fri Darwin Show Day NT
5 Aug Mon Picnic Day NT
14 Aug Wed Ekka Wednesday * QLD
16 Aug Fri Borroloola Show Day NT
23 Sep Mon King’s Birthday WA
27 Sep Fri AFL Grand Final Friday VIC
4 Oct Fri Burnie Show TAS
7 Oct Mon Labour Day ACT, NSW & SA
7 Oct Mon King’s Birthday QLD
10 Oct Thu Royal Launceston Show TAS
18 Oct Fri Flinders Island Show TAS
24 Oct Thu Royal Hobart Show TAS
4 Nov Mon Recreation Day TAS
5 Nov Tue Melbourne Cup Day * VIC
29 Nov Fri Devonport Show TAS
24 Dec Tue Christmas Eve * NT, QLD & SA
25 Dec Wed Christmas Day National
26 Dec Thu Boxing Day National except SA
26 Dec Thu Proclamation Day SA
31 Dec Tue New Year’s Eve * NT & SA