This guest post was contributed by Maura Thomas, a productivity expert, TEDx speaker and published author. Happy Holidays Guides wholeheartedly agrees with her perspective on why we need a vacation (hint: it’s scientific!) and hopes this information helps you make it a priority.
Surprise! Having fun may not be the top reason we need a vacation.
Think you don’t have time to take a vacation? Think you can’t afford it? Think again.
Recent studies make a convincing argument that you can’t afford not to take a vacation. If you are among the 43% of Americans who do not use all of their vacation time each year, then it’s time to rethink your strategy. Research now provides all the ammunition you need to make your next vacation a guilt-free priority.
Vacation provides a crucial opportunity to recharge, refresh, refocus, and rejuvenate. Studies show that vacation is good for your weight and your cardiovascular health, that it lowers your cortisol levels and your blood pressure, and may aid in recovery from diseases such as cancer. You can actually be putting your physical, mental, and fiscal health at risk when you skip vacation.
The realities of a 21st century knowledge worker’s life include multiple devices that stay connected all day, a constant deluge of hundreds of emails and other communications daily, and a “spinning” brain that can keep us awake at night trying to get everything done and managing all the details of our daily lives.
A vacation gives us the opportunity to temporarily escape these demands. Because we acclimate to increased stress levels, most people don’t recognize the toll this environment is taking on them, until that environment changes. But we only get the full benefits by actually disconnecting from work (which only about half of executives report doing).
In fact, here is a quick and easy suggestion for making the most of your time off.
It’s scandalous. Blasphemous. Heresy. Your first thought will be, “I can’t possibly do that.” Trust me. You can, and if you do, you’ll realize what a real vacation is supposed to feel like. Are you ready? Here you go:
Stop checking your email. The whole time. No exceptions.
No Way! Convince Me.
John Donahoe, former CEO of eBay, summed it up when he said, “Time off pays off – time spent away to refresh and refocus is really not time off. It’s just time better spent.”
If you allow your email to keep pulling your mind back into work, then you don’t really take a work vacation – you don’t really “get away.” Time off – especially if you can fully disconnect from work (which includes email!) – not only provides a mental and physical break, but it allows distance from work and daily life to provide a new perspective, a creativity boost, and a clarity of thought that gets buried by the fast pace of our everyday lives. (If you need a fail-safe to keep your vacation uninterrupted, here’s how to disable e-mail on an iPhone or iPad.)
As a knowledge worker, your success depends at least in part on the wisdom, experience, and unique perspective that you bring to your work. Your supply of unique creativity is not endless, and therefore taking the time to recharge it means increased productivity and better results when you return.
We hope to have shared a new perspective on why we need a vacation – not just to see new sights but to recharge, replenish, and bring our best selves back to work.
Maura Thomas is a thought leader on attention and achievement, and author of Personal Productivity Secrets. She founded RegainYourTime.com in 2003, which provides speaking, training and consulting services in productivity and effectiveness to clients both nationally and internationally.