Taking time off work to walk the Camino is the perfect opportunity to escape from the stresses of everyday life. Give yourself permission to take a break and reconnect with yourself. It is an investment of your time in yourself that will positively impact your work and personal life. Each year, tens of thousands of people take a break from their jobs, lives, and worries to walk the Camino.
It could be just a week, or it could be a month or more. The process of disconnecting from the worries and chores of day to day life is an empowering and freeing experience. A pilgrimage is a genuine opportunity for self-care.
Time off work is also an important aspect of a healthy work-life balance. Taking time for self-development and reflection is key to success at work as well as in life.
Here are our top 6 reasons why should take time off work to walk the Camino:
1. Time Off Improves Productivity
Taking holidays makes you perform better at work! We all need holidays and time off from work to be our best. There have been plenty of studies into performance at work that have shown that people who take regular time off perform better and are more productive.
Vacations and time to detach from work are important in enabling us to sustain performance, productivity, and creativity, said Simmy Grover, who lectures on organizational psychology at University College London.
When we take care of ourselves, we see benefits to our physical and mental health, performance and productivity. When we don’t, we see difficulties with innovation, creativity, resilience, empathy, decision-making and team-building.
Walking the Camino de Santiago is a unique opportunity to unplug from your daily life and take care of your wellbeing. Invest in yourself now, and you’ll be more productive and happier later!
2. Vacations Reduce Burnout
Burnout is a state of emotional and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged stress. When you get burnt out you will feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. It is important to look out for these signs and to look after yourself if you start to notice them. Being burnt out for a long period of time can lead to physical and mental complications.
Studies in Europe suggest that 50–60 % of all lost working days can be attributed to work-related stress. In the US 83% of workers say they’re stressed about their jobs and nearly 50% say work-related stress is interfering with their sleep.
Taking regular vacations and time off is the best way to start your road to better wellbeing. Walking is a great way to reduce your stress levels.
When you come home from your time off on the Camino you will have more mental space to assess your burnout, figure out what is causing it, and take steps to make your life better.
3. Walking Holidays Improve Physical Health
Walking an average of 20km (13 miles) each day on the Camino de Santiago is great for your physical health! Gentle exercise every day, fresh air, green spaces, fresh food and new friends will help rejuvenate you from within. You might or might not lose weight, but your body will benefit from walking on every level – from brain health to cardiovascular and muscle tone.
What could be better for your body than walking in the beautiful Spanish countryside? You will return a fitter and healthier person, ready to take on the world.
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4. Travel Teaches Us New Things
It is almost impossible to travel without learning something new. Taking time off work to travel and experience new cultures is a great way to learn about language, history, culture, cuisine, and more.
You can make it your mission to try to use a few new Spanish words each day, or to learn more about the countries that your fellow pilgrims come from. Add an extra day to your Camino and discover some of the amazing museums and historical buildings along the way.
You can choose to be more structured in your learning too. Download a book or some business literature you have been meaning to read. Catch up on blog posts and videos on areas that you are interested in, connected or not to your work. Listening to educational audiobooks or podcasts while you walk can be an interesting way to take in new information.
Alternatively, after a day’s walking, time relaxing with a book or listening to an inspiring story can help you put your own issues and thoughts into perspective.
5. Take a Step Back and See Things From a New Perspective
Pilgrims regularly say that time away from work on the Camino has helped to give them perspective. This could be a perspective on how stressed they were without realising it, or a perspective on what really matters to them.
Taking a break from your “normal” life and walking a pilgrimage gives you the chance to focus on simple things. While you walk all you need to think about is walking, eating, drinking water, and sleeping. Everything else slips away and life becomes more simple. These are the times when you can consider who you are, what you want in life, and how you can get there.
A pilgrimage is an excellent time for strategic pondering. This is best achieved when you step back to see the bigger picture. Once you have a better understanding of what your normal life is like you will have more power to change and reshape it into something that serves you better.
Big ideas can ripen slowly. Walking the Camino will give you the opportunity to escape from daily distractions allowing you time for reflection. Inspiration may even come from those you meet along the Way. Who knows what pearl of wisdom someone may impart to you that suddenly will put everything in a new light.
6. Vacations Show You That Life Goes On
Stepping away from work and your responsibilities doesn’t mean it will all come crumbling down. In fact, taking a break from work can be important for helping teams to understand weaknesses and dependencies. If you leaving work for two weeks is a big issue for the company then that is something that needs to be addressed. Could one of your colleagues step up and learn to do more things? Do you need to hire someone with new skills? What will happen if you move to a new town or when you retire? These are questions that every business needs to ask, but that we all sometimes forget about.
Taking your holiday days empowers businesses to consider the future and helps them to understand your role and value to the company.
For your personal life, this is a chance to see that people can survive and even step up if you aren’t there. Maybe your partner or children will start taking on more responsibility around the house or discover their love of cooking or gardening. Sometimes it just takes a little push to help them realise what they can do themselves. Even if that doesn’t happen – hopefully, they’ll appreciate you even more when you get home!
Now that you know why you should take time off for the Camino check out our 5 Steps to get you ready to leave work:
 Healthy Workplace – Campaign Guide http://eguides.osha.europa.eu/stress/IE-EN/
The American Workplace Is Broken. Here’s How We Can Start Fixing It. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/american-workplace-broken-stress_us_566b3152e4b011b83a6b42bd
 The mental and physical health outcomes of green exercise from the US National Library of Medicine https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16416750
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Originally published on 2nd August 2021