The word is Christian in origin, although in many English-speaking countries, it is widely used and accepted to wish people a “Happy Holiday,” regardless of a person’s religious views. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word is derived from the “Old English hāligdæg, from hālig holy + dæg day.”
Historically this always referred to specific holy days in the Christian liturgical calendar. Over time the original meaning “holy day” became associated with time off of work. Rest and relaxation were a natural part of every holy day. “Going on a holiday” in the UK is the same phrase as “Going on a vacation.”
The last 10 months have seen the world global economy suddenly stop. Supply chains, trade flows and tourism shut down and, in some cases locked down. Parents juggle their professional commitments via home working with looking after their kids and home schooling them at the same time, individuals who live by themselves affected by the lack of physical social contact, feel lonely and isolated. There are people who are worried about their health, their family’s well-being, with lack of control over the situation; all of this shift we are experiencing has increased stress and there is little that individuals can do to change it.
I am encouraged to learn that within the industry I work in, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has launched new mental health guidelines for the travel and tourism sector – an action taken that will help support businesses of all sizes to support the mental health of travel and tourism employees.
The pandemic (and measures taken by governments to control it such as lockdowns and social distancing) are having a significant impact on our mental health. Unless we permit ourselves to have a holiday, it is possible that the mental health implications will be felt for many months. We are all longing for the day when travel corridors are eased, and when our governments allow us to travel more freely. The shift in our behaviour of being forced to stay indoors has had a strain. We are human beings in need of human connection, exploration, with a desire to stretch our imaginations, learn and exchange ideas from one another.
I am not advocating doing anything other than abiding by the rules, ensuring we protect those who need protecting, however, I sincerely believe that we are facing a tsunami of mental health breakdowns if we don’t address our basic human instincts and desires. I found an example of sharing what I mean.
I read that a Scottish man has reportedly been jailed for breaching coronavirus rules after he rode a jetski from Scotland to the Isle of Man to see his girlfriend. Determined to see his girlfriend despite coronavirus rules he made the four-and-a-half-hour journey by jetski despite never having driven a personal watercraft before. His defence lawyer said in court that the man suffered from depression and was struggling to cope without his girlfriend. He admitted arriving unlawfully on the island and was sentenced to four weeks in jail. A desperate, heartfelt action which had a desperate consequence.
The global pandemic is life changing for us all. Will we return to the life we had beforehand? For others that life may no longer be there. We have to think differently. Some things will return and other things will be forever changed. Some of those things we will grieve for, and others will actually be really positive.
The next time you consider the word “holiday”, remember the Christian origins of the word and try to sanctify such days, being truly grateful for the opportunity of rest and relaxation. Permit yourself and others to spend that time to recharge and re fuel.
A holiday will ensure you take care of your emotional, mental and physical health. That holiday is important for many reasons, anxiety reduction, will help you cope with stress, improve not only self-worth but relationships with others. A holiday is a prescription each of us should be writing to ourselves. It’s part of a self-care strategy, helping us sleep better, eat better and have the energy to embrace the comings and goings in our daily lives. Remember a holiday is a Holy Day.