For support call: 0330 100 3143
Return to homeowner

The benefits of taking time off work at Christmas



Taking time off work is important for mental wellbeing – but self-employed installers can find it tricky to down tools at Christmas. Here’s some expert advice on switching off for a festive break

Friday 22nd December 2023

Christmas should be an occasion for downing tools, taking time off work and relaxing with family and friends.

But for self-employed installers, the festive season coincides with the busiest time for the heating trade. Many worry about taking a break around Christmas and the new year, as it could have an impact on income and customer loyalty. However, not taking a break can trigger a lot of additional stress and anxiety.

So, we asked Alison Pay, Managing Director of Mental Health at Work, part of the Mental Health Foundation, and Surrey-based business coach Lorna Thomas for tips on how you can take some festive downtime.

Managing demand during heating season

“The holiday season can pose unique challenges for self-employed professionals,” says Alison. “Juggling your business, client demands and family responsibilities amid the desire for a much-needed break can lead to increased stress and eventually burnout.”

The pressure to maintain a festive facade, coupled with the potential isolation of being self-employed, can also lead to emotional challenges, explains Alison.

“Loneliness, if left unaddressed, can contribute to mental health issues, but this doesn’t mean that throwing yourself into work is the answer.

“Talking about loneliness can help remove some of the stigma. Being alone, loneliness and social isolation are not the same – and neither is loneliness caused by a lack of social skills.”

If you’re going to make the most of the opportunity to have a break over the festive period, while managing the challenges it can bring, then a proactive approach is essential.


“A well-planned break not only benefits your personal wellbeing, it also contributes to your long-term professional success”



Seven ways to ensure a stress-free Christmas break


Drawing from expert advice, Mental Health at Work provides some practical tips to help you manage stress and maintain a healthy work-life balance over the festive period.


1 Planning is key

Tell your customers in advance if you’ll be taking time off and how long you’ll be away for. Get on top of your workload by listing your jobs by priority and finishing the most urgent ones before you go. And put comprehensive plans in place for long-term projects: hand them over to others if you can, or handle them yourself in the new year. Manage your customers’ and colleagues’ expectations by being clear about your availability over the festive period and the best way to contact you in emergencies.

2 Delegate responsibilities

If you can, identify trusted colleagues or fellow installers in your area who can handle emergency callouts or take on your ongoing projects over Christmas, and provide these alternative contacts to your customers.

3 Relax and refresh

Try integrating relaxation techniques into your daily routine to help you wind down in the build-up to Christmas. This might be as simple as taking a moment to breathe, or having short breaks between jobs for mental refreshment.

4 Embrace technology

Consider using project management tools or communication apps to streamline your working processes during the busy period. For example, with our myVAILLANT Pro system, you can monitor your customers’ heating installations to help you plan your servicing and repair visits more effectively – saving you time and reducing stress.

5 Reflect and plan

Take time during the holiday break to reflect on the past year, celebrating your successes and acknowledging your business growth. Set realistic goals for the upcoming year and make sure you plan more breaks during that time.

6 Seek support early

Getting support as soon you see changes in your mental health is essential. This might just be a conversation with someone who lets you talk without trying to fix anything. It might also be talking to your GP or reaching out to one of the many organisations that specialise in mental health issues. The Hub of Hope provides a national mental health database to help direct you to the right resources quickly.

7 Take care of yourself

Taking good care of your physical and mental wellbeing is important for handling stress. So, use the time off over the festive period to recharge your batteries. Get plenty of sleep, eat well and do activities that you enjoy.




“By implementing these tips, you can reduce stress, increase productivity and ensure a smoother transition during your time off and on your return,” says Alison.

“A well-planned break not only benefits your personal wellbeing, it also contributes to your long-term professional success.

“So, you can take that much-needed break with confidence, knowing that you have done everything possible to prepare – and your customers will thank you for it.”


“Having separate mobile phones for business and personal use can ensure your downtime is completely sacrosanct, and you won’t get interrupted by work calls”


Protect your downtime


Echoing Alison’s advice on the need to prepare and set boundaries, business coach Lorna offers some additional tips.

“If you haven’t already got separate mobile phones for business and personal use, I highly recommend that,” she says.

“It has the benefit of ensuring your downtime is completely sacrosanct, and you won’t get interrupted by work calls. If you can, just switch your phone off.”

Lorna also advocates getting invoicing and paperwork in order before the festive period and making a to-do list for your first week back at work.

“Do the brain dump, stick some deadlines on it and then forget about it,” she says.

“That way, your unconscious mind knows that’s it’s taken into account, and it doesn’t need to nag you about it.”

Lorna also suggests using the Christmas break to plan for more time off.

“It's more than just booking the summer holiday,” she says, “it’s actually planning breaks at intervals throughout the year, so you get repeated time off work.

“We all know that feeling when you go back to work and it feels like you haven’t even had a holiday.

“Research has proven that knowing you’ve got another break coming up within a reasonable amount of time sustains the benefits of having had that break in the first place.”

Take action on mental wellbeing


And if you do feel as if your mental health is deteriorating over the festive period, then don’t ignore it, adds Alison.

“Recognising how you are feeling, listening to those close to you who may have noticed changes in behaviour, and talking to others is a key starting place for taking positive and proactive action,” she says.

“Taking time for reflection now can ensure that you are refreshed and productive and ready for your customers in the new year.”