The Value of Vacations
“Many entrepreneurs, executives, and self-employed people pride themselves on being too busy for vacation. They perceive it as a sign of importance and commitment,” shares Tine Thygesen, a Scandinavian entrepreneur who has adopted the opposite view. In her country, five weeks of vacation is not only the norm, it’s legally mandatory. This and other European models may cast shades of green across the U.S. workforce, where the average vacation time after five years of service is 14 days. On the flip side, the average U.S. employee takes only about half of their allotted vacation time. And of those who do get away, many have trouble leaving their work behind. The Glassdoor's Q1 2014 Employment Confidence Survey revealed that three in five admitted to doing some work on vacay while a quarter of vacationers were contacted by a coworker and 20 percent were contacted by their supervisor about a work-related issue while “away”. Is it any wonder folks are overwhelmed, underproductive, and just plain burnt-out? If you’re undecided on whether to take a vacation this year, waffle no more. Repeat after me, “Time off is good for me. I’ll be more productive when I return. I need a vacation.” Do you need further convincing? Read on to discover the physical, mental, and emotional benefits to time off. Overall Health
- Reports suggest that people who do not take vacations have a 21% higher risk of death from all causes.
- According to the Framingham Heart Study, men who vacationed regularly were more than 32% less likely to die from a heart attack. For women who regularly take time off, that figure jumps to 50% less likely to die from a heart attack.
- Vacationers have stronger immune systems. The psychoneuroimmunology field of research has linked stress to an altered immune system, one that’s more susceptible to illnesses such as colds or influenza as well as more serious conditions like irritable bowel syndrome. Some researchers feel that long-term, chronic stress may actually contribute to cancer.
- Restless, poor quality sleep often stems from an overwhelmed, overstimulated brain that just can’t turn off. “When we can't stop the (mental) chatter it affects our sleep, and a lack of sleep leads to less focus, less alertness, impaired memory, an increased likelihood of accidents and a decreased quality of life,” suggests Tara Powers.
- A brain that doesn’t get a chance to disengage can’t possibly be as sharp and productive as a brain that regularly shuts down during sleep. Vacations help to reset the energizer-bunny brain and in turn, establish a more restful sleep pattern.
- It’s a fact of life. Time spent on the job has the unintended consequence of interfering with family relationships. Dedicated employees often feel torn between their work-related tasks and their family responsibilities—a stress-inducing situation in and of itself. All the more reason to not push family vacation time to the bottom of the priority list.
- Time away with loved ones strengthens marriages and deepens bonds between family members. Time spent doing out-of-the-daily-routine activities, having crazy fun together, and creating vacation memories, forges closer ties that have long-term effects. Long after the bags are unpacked and the laundry put away, those days shared together will have a positive impact on family relationships. Don’t settle for the promise of more family time after retirement. Strive for quality and quantity time by making vacations a priority.