Prominent South African comedian Trevor Noah on ho
Prominent South African comedian Trevor Noah on holiday in Miami, Unites States (Instagram, @trevornoah)

Public holidays should be used to create spaces to not think about work, Kumeshnee West, director of executive education at UCT’s Graduate School of Business, says. 

She believes the benefits of public holidays far outweigh the negatives. 

“More than that – you could argue the opposite – that not having public holidays – times for people to rest and replenish, is bad for the economy,” West tells Business Insider South Africa.

“Mental health issues and illness cost the South African economy more.”

Also read: Six of the most expensive holiday rentals in Cape Town right now – with prices up to R250,000 per night

Business Insider South Africa spoke to UCT’s Kumeshnee West, and Bianca Solomon, human capital manager at the University of Stellenbosch’s Business School, about how South Africans can get the most from their public holidays. 

1) Relax! 

“Don’t work! It’s that simple,” West says.

“Don’t look at email. Do things that are going to create space for you rest your mind and your body and find things that help you rest and connect with people.”

USB’s Solomon says you don’t have to be "busy" to be productive and make the most of your public holidays. 

2) Plan ahead.

Whether it is making sure your fridge is fully stocked, or that important admin has been taken care of, you should plan ahead to make most of your free time, Solomon says. Take a moment and think about what is important to you and make plans to do it. 

3) Be financially savvy 

Most public holidays end up costing families thousands in unnecessary expenses, Solomon says.

“You don't want to put yourself under additional financial pressure when you return to your usual routine.”

Taking a walk with the dogs, spending a day at the beach, a hike, or a picnic are all low-cost ways to relax without breaking the bank. 

4) Prioritise what is important

Too many people waste their public holidays zoning out on the couch, and not enough time doing something they love, Solomon says. Do something creative, see people, or do pretty much anything you can derive meaning from. 

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