It sounds obvious…taking a day or a week off of work is good for you. Everyone needs to renew, refresh, recharge. But according to a 2009 International Vacation Deprivation Study (really!), commissioned by Expedia, more than 30 percent of Americans did not use all of their vacation days.
Of course, some of those people are afraid they’ll lose their jobs or they’re just too busy to get away; but isn’t that the point?! Taking time away from your busy work routine, piles of papers, an inbox exploding with emails and a constantly ringing phone is what the body needs to replenish and repair itself.
By not taking time off, you’re not doing yourself, your family, or even your company any favors. So now that summer vacation time is upon us, let’s see why it’s good for us to get away….and that doesn’t mean bringing a case full of work with you.
It’s good for your physical and mental health.
Taking vacations contributes to higher positive emotional levels, less depression, lower blood pressure and even smaller waistlines according to Karen Matthews of the University of Pittsburgh’s Mind-Body Center. In general, those who have more leisure activities report more life satisfaction and healthier habits.
You’ll live longer.
The Mind-Body Center did a nine year study of 12,000 men at risk for heart disease and found the men who didn’t take yearly vacations had a 22 percent higher risk of death from all causes and a 32 percent higher risk of death by heart attack.
It’s a stress reliever.
We all know stress isn’t good for us and one of the cures is to take time off to stave off burnout and promote overall well-being. A relaxing vacation should last long after the days off are over and translate into better sleep, mood and fewer physical complaints. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. But beware: if you don’t delegate any of the work you have to others while you are gone, you may return to even more stress as you struggle to make up time lost.
You’ll improve job performance.
Want to do better on your job? Take some time off! By relaxing your mind, leisure time gives you a chance to look at the bigger picture, improve your ability to juggle challenges and tackle problems. When you return to work, you’ll be able to make better decisions and more likely to consider new approaches to things.
You’ll get some much needed exercise and vitamin D.
If you have free time, you’re more likely to get out and move, even if it’s taking a long walk in your neighborhood or an occasional swim. You’ll not only stay in shape this way, but you’ll get a good dose of vitamin D by being in the outdoors. Vitamin D is essential for maintaining healthy bones and can help prevent various forms of cancer, including breast, prostate and colon. Of course, you can pop this essential nutrient as a supplement, but spending some time outdoors each day (as little as five to 15 minutes) is a much better way to provide the needed benefits. And the best part is that the sun is free. So get outdoors and enjoy it!
Bottom line: You need to get away, even if it’s a couple of day stay-cation in your own backyard. And that doesn’t mean pretending to relax while you are constantly checking your phone and answering emails. To truly be on vacation, you need to remove yourself from your normal routines and that includes giving up the electronics, even if it’s just for a couple of hours. Your body and mind will thank you.
How do vacations help you? Let us know.