Eric Evans

Registered Psychotherapist

Toronto Psychotherapist working with depression, anxiety, serious illness, creativity, gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer issues.

Holidays are good.

I know it's obvious, but as the summer approaches, I'm very mindful of how much I need a break. Like many psychotherapists - almost stereotypically - I'm taking the entire month of August off. I can't wait. 

More importantly, however, I've been aware over the last number of years, that in North America, holidays are dwindling. This seems to be either due to employers reducing the amount of time they will give to their employees and to people generally feeling something like guilt for taking the time off. 

In some circles it is almost a point of honour that someone worked seventy-hour weeks for months and months and didn't take a break. Or that people didn't take a holiday because they felt there was too much to do and therefore the guilt kept them working. What's going on here? 

There is ample research that shows very clearly that people can only work effectively for a few hours a day: not twelve, and not steadily. 

But we seem to have a fantasy that some would say is a product of rampant capitalism, that we are morally obliged to work as much as possible or we are not good citizens. Or good people. 

I say screw that. This is one of the reasons I chose to work for myself. But I know that most people (although that is changing) work for other people and therefore don't have much control. But we can work for companies that have a human policy of providing vacations to employees. In some countries, employers give a month. That sounds nice. But I realize it's not always possible. But I do think we need to think about this as a culture and yes, I do think that some of the blame has to be laid at the feet of our version of capitalism  - or neoconservatism which is creeping into many things. 

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to a month of unstructured time. I hope you get some as well.