The Importance of Vacations

importance of vacationsYou’re dedicated to your job.  You don’t have time to take vacation – and if you do take a few days off, you’re always on-line, checking and responding to email and texts.  Aren’t you a stellar employee?

Actually, no.  You may see vacations as a luxury, but they’re actually key to a healthy, balanced life.    Time off from work has been shown to increase employee well-being and productivity, which is why more and experts are urging employees to take full advantage of their vacation days.  And, according to the Boston College Center for Work & Family at the Carroll School of Management, missing one year’s vacation has been associated with a higher risk of heart disease!  Vacations also decrease the risk of depression and help employees to have more energy on the job.  Time off improves sleep quality and keeps you young because chronic stress is believed to accelerate the aging process.

According to the Glassdoor, Q1 2014 Employment Survey, American workers only took 51% of the vacation days allotted to them.  Fifteen percent took no time off at all, worried that they may fall behind or fearful of delegating work responsibilities.  Some employees actually think that if they’re not at work, they may be considered dispensable.  Sometimes preparing to go on vacation and dealing with piled-up work afterwards seems overwhelming.

Make sure to take all the vacation days allotted to you.  And your boss should be encouraging you to do so.  But, be sure you’re actually taking a vacation.  Sixty-one percent of the workforce also admitted to working while on vacation.

Most of us allow ourselves to take a break after strenuous physical activities, such as gardening or        ex­­ercise, but not after spending all day thinking.  Our brains actually tire out before our bodies do, so if you’ve been using your mind all day, you need to give yourself a break.  Entrepreneurs who are building their businesses are especially guilty of working themselves into poor health and burnout.

Some progressive companies build in breaks during the workday by allowing employees to take a brief walk, do yoga, or engage in some kind of fun activity, which are rejuvenating and encourage creativity.  Breaking for lunch helps to restore energy – and eating at your desk doesn’t count.  Experts recommend taking a short break every 45-90 minutes.

Let’s say you’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii, and you finally have the trip booked.  You’ve been looking forward to it for months.  But, when you’re lying on the beach in Hawaii, and your mind’s on your work, you haven’t really been to Hawaii.  It’s just an expensive way to stay in your own head!


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