A Mental Health Expert Explains Why Vacations Are Important Even If You Work From Home

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the prevalence of working from home has more than tripled. For some, this switch was only temporary, but for many, remote and hybrid work has become the new normal. According to the Census Department's American Community Survey, over 26 million people reported that their home now doubles as their office. While this brings some obvious benefits and is often less stressful than working in the office — no more long commutes, a more relaxed work uniform, an increased flexibility in schedules — it also carries many of the same stressors as an in-person position.


Because of this, New York-based licensed therapist and counselor Brenda Delmonte, who operates The Counseling Perch, says that people who work from home can still benefit from some time away from the proverbial office, and in some ways, they might even benefit more than those with in-person jobs. We all know that vacations are an essential time to recharge, but according to Delmonte, they're worth so much more even if you work from home.

Time off provides space for hobbies and activities

When you're working full-time, it can be difficult to find time to fit in your favorite activities. Vacations give you the opportunity to enjoy your old hobbies as well as explore new ones, from something as simple as watching that movie you haven't gotten around to trying out surfing for the first time. When you're no longer bound by work hours or an early morning alarm, you have much more freedom and choice in how you spend your day.


"Vacations offer an opportunity to do something enjoyable and fun that may not be readily accessible to you during the regular workweek unless you make an effort to devote specific time to them," Brenda Delmonte says. "Depending on the destination that you choose (staycation or another destination) and your personal preferences, you can plan activities (educational, physical, artistic, relaxing, entertaining, etc.) that you wouldn't normally do if you had to work the next day and never had a long break."

Vacations offer time for self-care

Self-care has become a popular term that focuses on health and beauty, but slapping on a face mask at the end of a long day often isn't enough to give you the chance to recharge. Instead, real self-care often involves taking the time to breathe, focus on your well-being and processing your emotions, and get some well-deserved rest. Time off, even if it's a staycation, can provide you with this opportunity instead of leaving you to play catch up over the weekend. Your zodiac sign element may even help your self-care routine come together!


According to Brenda Delmonte, this can also give you the time to create more nourishing routines in your day-to-day life, too. "You may use this time to create healthier lifestyle choices and routines that maybe you thought about but weren't able to start or do consistently due to working from home and not having the time," she says. After recharging, you'll be able to set yourself up for success so your weeks ahead are more sustainable and less draining.

Separation from work can increase productivity

At her practice in Rockland County, Brenda Delmonte focuses primarily on anxiety in women. Even if you haven't been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, one of the most common results of a hectic work life is ruminating — running the same issues over and over again in your mind — but Delmonte says a vacation can allow your brain the chance to get out of that cycle.


"You may find that thinking about a problem over and over again is not helpful," she says. "What may be helpful instead, is an incubating effect, in which your brain is subconsciously working through an important issue because of the fact that you have put it out of your mind and are doing other non-related things." After you return to work, you might be able to better streamline and focus on the tasks at hand. "Removing ourselves from stress can promote making better decisions by allowing us the bandwidth and headspace needed to think more clearly."

A trip away provides a healthy change in environment

One of the more negative impacts of working from home is constantly being stuck in the same environment. When your home also functions as your office, it's easy to get stuck in a cycle of staying in, just switching rooms at the end of the work day. A vacation, however, can provide a welcome break in this pattern, giving you something to work towards, a fresh view, and an overall brighter mood both before and after your planned trip. Even if it's just a road trip a few hours away, it's enough to give you a boost.


"A change in environment can stimulate your mind, increase energy levels, increase motivation, and have an overall positive effect on your mood," Brenda Delmonte says. "Having a few days off in the near future gives you something to look forward to. Thinking about vacation and planning vacation is often exciting and can make the long, challenging work days pass by faster."

Vacation time is an opportunity to practice boundaries

Because you're working from home, it's often difficult to separate your work and home time. There's no physically leaving the office, so you may find yourself working past your scheduled hours or checking your email after you've already logged off. According to Brenda Delmonte, a vacation and some officially scheduled time off can help you make this distinction clearer and actually give your brain the chance to slip out of work mode for a few days.


"If you work from home, you are still bound to specific work hours, meetings, and other work tasks," she says. "You are still working hard, and in some instances, people working from home find it difficult to turn work off because they may not always be able to physically escape their work by leaving the building. For this reason, taking a scheduled vacation will ensure that you take time to do something for yourself and your family that is not work-related."