I’ve never been very good at taking holidays. Before I had kids, I hardly took any time off at all. Now I have the needy selfish children* I’m obliged to take them on a multiplicity of exciting Swallows and Amazons style adventures. And now I have a family, my time off is much more precious, and much, much too short.
I have voiceover colleagues who take portable studios away with them and voice stuff while they’re away. I admire their commitment, honestly I do…but frankly, that’d send me bloody crackers.
The pressure of having to check email, having to be available at a moment’s notice, having to stay back at the hotel recording on-hold messages while everyone else goes off to look at the wonders of the world, worrying while you’re on a lilo if a customer’s waiting for you to record a credit example for a motor dealership in Wolverhampton, getting a text message asking if you can send a demo “in the style of a funky Dawn French” when you’re relishing the peace of a clifftop monastery.
I mean, I love my customers and I love my work, but man…sometimes, you’ve just gotta switch off. Haven’t you??
Doctors (and insurance companies) say that holidays relieve stress, improve your mental skills, improve your physical health, strengthen family ties and let you just enjoy life. (Clearly these people never went on holiday with my mother **). I find it really, really helps to rest my voice. When I’m working, I’m speaking all day long, and I’m sight-reading for most of that time. I know I don’t work down a mine, but it’s mentally draining and all that talking takes a big toll on your voice. (Just read this article on the horror of voice nodules, cysts and polyps if you’re not convinced). So resting your voice (and your poor, sight-reading addled mind) can improve your skills and heal any over-use. It’ll certainly stop you from getting burned out.
This article shows that people who ‘really relax’ while they’re away get the most benefit from a break, and that happiness increases with anticipation of a holiday.
My holiday mind goes through distinct phases:
1. The anticipation. The joy of composing the out-of-office reply, waiting to sink into the bliss of being unavailable for a few days is just great. Thinking of all the coastal walks! The balmy evenings! And all that ice cream!
2. Intrusive thoughts about potential travel disruption. I’m not good with travel disruption. Or dealing with travel-sick people. Or travel-sick animals. I also worry about lost keys, failing SatNav and some other unforeseen cause of doom.
3. Unplugging. Not being a slave to devices. The freedom, O THE FREEDOM of being away from email!
4. Slow come-down from work. It takes me a while for my internal pace to slow. When we went away last week I spent TWO DAYS looking out of the window watching rain fall on a lake. I’ve never been happier in my life.
5. Emptying my head. The feeling of clogged-up thoughts unfurling like tendrils of smoke, disappearing into the ether, becoming nothing at all.
6. Rebooting. Hitting the reset button in my mind. Like a sort of de-fragmentation programme.
7. Preparing for the return. Oh God. The hell of it.
8. Being assaulted by email. Sometimes when I come back from a holiday, it’s like the devil’s vomited in my Inbox.
9. Ploughing through the backlog. Head down, buckle up, find the stamina to get through it.
10. Holiday? What holiday?? When you’ve been back at work for, like, an hour it’s like the holiday never bloody happened.
So do yourself a favour. Book a break. Even a 24 hour break. Find a way to empty your head, regroup and have a chance to just lie back and look at the sky.
Truly, life’s too short not to. And your voice career will still be there when you get home. Trust me.
* That was a joke. A JOKE. They are not needy.
** That was another joke. My mother was a wonderful, wonderful woman.