The Power of Vacations
Why do we work so hard, so long, and vacation so little? The health, creativity, social, and productivity benefits of time off are well documented. Yet many of us feel guilty for taking a day off here-and-there, to say nothing of a week or two.
“Creative breakthroughs happen when we pause and have time to reflect.” – Skip Prichard
According to a Forbes article I read recently, working 55 hours a week or more puts us at a 35% higher risk of stroke, and a 17% higher risk of heart disease than a work week of 35-40 hours. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though, when it comes to the benefits of balancing work and time off. We know that time off helps with sleep, with creativity, with staying well and fighting off disease, and even with productivity back at work.
So why don’t we take the time off we so desperately need?
During this “Aim Higher” panel, I think we put our finger on the short answer: vacation messes with our sense of feeling needed, valuable, even irreplaceable. We live in a very competitive world. it can be easy to let our minds transform “time off to relax, recharge, rewind, reflect, and recreate” into “time for my boss and colleagues to realize they don’t need me.”
“When you do something for too long without a break, you lose perspective.” – Tammi Spayde
Like so many other fears and worries, this one is totally overblown. And it can be laid to rest with some perspective.
Put yourself in the shoes of any of your colleagues, your team, and even your manager. They tell you, “I’m taking off a couple weeks for a dream vacation that my family and I have been putting off forever.” What’s your first thought? I can almost guarantee it’s the same as what mine would be:
“Good for you!”
“My prescription? Go to a public library, take out a good book, and go away for a week.” – Drew Bordas
We give other people so much more benefit-of-the-doubt and psychological leeway than we do ourselves. Trust me: nobody is going to fire you for taking enough vacation to give you the rest and recharge time you need to be your best.
My “Aim Higher” panel has some excellent thoughts on why we’re so hesitant to take vacation and how you can plan to make the whole experience less stressful.
Listen to Aim Higher.
See also Take a Break.
Image Credit: Sai Kiran Anagani