The good news? A vacation from work is essential to your health and your company’s health. The bad news? Less than half of us used all of our vacation time in 2016, and a third of us took ZERO vacation days during the prior year. This according to recent research from ProjectTimeOff.com and travel news site Skift.
The irony of it all is that these “vacation martyrs” think they’re doing everyone a favor by working this hard. In reality, they’re costing everyone: their family, their boss, their company, their sanity! Dozens of research studies indicate that people who take vacations are happier, healthier, more productive and can even earn more than those who don’t.
If you can’t manage a week off, try a long weekend.
Many of us have busy weekends too, filled with ‘non-work hassels’ like house cleaning, grocery shopping, errands, appointments, laundry, etc. This can impair our ability to recover from our work situation and stressors. Having a true break a.k.a. ‘relief from our daily burdens’ provides both physical and mental benefits including:
Restoration and recovery are essential to our health and rooted in our biology. Just as we need sleep to feel our best, we sometimes need time away from the office to reset the body and mind, lower our stress level, lower our risk for heart attack, even increase our ability to fight infection.
We experience the benefits of vacation for up to 5 weeks after. Breaking routine from the day-to-day experience, unplugging from and detaching from work, being in a new environment and trying new things can create new neural pathways and increase our neurotransmitters…the same ones that are associated with our reward and pleasure centers. Vacations energize us, improve creativity, improve our personal relationships, and decrease stress and anxiety.
Those who take vacation are more likely to get promoted and more likely to receive a raise than those who don’t. Taking time to recharge, (even for just a few days) renders us more productive, more resilient, and less likely to experience burnout.
We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us. -unknown
Those new experiences, new tastes, new environments and detaching from work can all happen close to home. Why not become a local tourist and fall in love with your city again?
To be a ‘vacation’ you need to treat it like a vacation. Run by the office real quick? You couldn’t do that if you were in Hawaii, so don’t do it here. Grab your morning coffee at a little shop on the opposite side of town rather than your usual Vanilla latte in the car. Resist the urge to check your email. Visit new restaurants, try new cuisine, sit in a sidewalk cafe in a new neighborhood.
Whether rediscovering your city or getting away, after the long weekend you can return to work with a fresh perspective and appreciation…and send a postcard to your favorite uncle!
Originally published at medium.com