‘Tis the holiday season, which means that the people you know (and work with) are likely taking one of two approaches: They are either working more than ever; or they are taking lots of time off to be with their families and enjoy a well-deserved break. Here’s the thing, though. More of us seem to be in the group of those who are working too hard and not having much fun. In fact, 40 percent of us don’t take all of our vacation days each year.
(Photo credit: ThePixelman/Pixabay)
Why’s that? We’re the “no-vacation nation,” according to CNN. We appear to have an aversion to taking vacations — and part of the reason for that has to do with corporate culture. (Our bosses may not discourage a vacation, but they don’t talk about it, nor does work always make it easy to take a break).
What you may not have taken into consideration is: You need a vacation. And, here are five reasons why.
1. The Social Factor.
With our crazy-busy lives, we don’t get to spend as much time with family and friends as we’d like. But, that social time is crucial. According to a Gallup poll, full-time workers experience “the most happiness when they spend more than seven hours of time with family and friends” — that social time is essential to our “daily emotional well-being.”
2. Reverse Signs of Overwork.
You’ve heard the horror stories about overworked Americans, but overwork has also become something of a cult. David Solomon, global co-head of investment banking at Goldman, told The New Yorker, “Today, technology means that we’re all available 24/7. And, because everyone demands instant gratification and instant connectivity, there are no boundaries, no breaks.”
Now, of course, the after-effects of our overworked lifestyles have become clear. While working all day-and-night may be unavoidable at certain points of crisis in your career, workers who regularly overwork are affected by depression, illness, and anxiety.
Taking time off for a vacation can start to overturn those signs of overwork.
3. Lessen the Stress.
“The research is clear that failing to take a vacation creates higher levels of stress and greater levels of disengagement at work,” Douglas J. Matthews of Manpower/Right Management tells Forbes.
Play and relaxation are perfect ways to relieve tension and stress. With no schedule, reports, or deadlines — you can sleep in, get outside, and soak in the sunshine (yes, you could even find yourself on a beach somewhere). More importantly, though, studies draw a correlation between heart attacks and stress, indicating that: “Those who failed to take annual vacations had a 21 percent higher risk of death from all causes and were 32 percent more likely to die of a heart attack,” according to The New York Times.
We get so caught up in work and schedules, we convince ourselves that we can’t afford the time off. Instead of being a waste of time, though, a vacation is really required for reflection, inspiration, and for saving up brainpower and energy for future work. Indeed, a vacation can be a life-changing experience.
Yes, we can buy things for one another this holiday season, but if you really think about it (and review the relevant studies), you’ll find that “experiences” offer amazing opportunities for learning and growing. Part of it has to do with your memories that stay with you.
It’s a common misconception that, in order to be productive, you must work harder, with longer hours and more responsibilities. “Busyness implies hard work, which implies good character, a strong education, and either present or future affluence,” according to The Atlantic.
In our pursuit of happiness, we increase our productivity, just as we fill up our days with more work — all in the hope of advancement and monetary consideration, but also looking forward to the prospect of rest and relaxation. Then, we don’t even take the full number of vacation days that are allotted to us.
As we head into the holiday season, let’s find ways to work less (smarter, not harder), and enjoy life more. Vacation, laugh, spend time with your family, celebrate the holidays, and embrace the seemingly irrefutable facts: Taking time off will surely support a longer life span (with a lower chance of heart attack, anxiety, depression, and so many other maladies).
Meanwhile, you’ll return to work inspired, creative, and more productive. Perhaps you’ll even be ready to change the world.
Tell Us What You Think
Are you a believer in vacations? Do you take every single moment of possible time off every year? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.