It's time we say "enough is enough" and learn to put our needs first. Taking time off is good for your mental and physical health, and you can come back more productive and effective. It's a win-win. To avoid the negative effects of chronic stress and burnout, we need time to replenish and return to our pre-stress level of functioning. This recovery process requires “switching off” from work by having periods of time when you are neither engaging in work-related activities, nor thinking about work. It is critical that you disconnect from time to time, in a way that fits your needs and preferences. When possible, take time off to relax and unwind, so you come back to work feeling reinvigorated and ready to perform at your best. When you're not able to take time off, get a quick boost by turning off your smartphone and focusing your attention on non-work activities for a while. If it has been a while since your last vacation, or even if it hasn’t, here are three reasons to use your days and consider booking your next vacation ASAP.
- Vacations may help lessen the risk of heart disease. Taking an opportunity to de-stress and spend time with loved ones can lower the risk of heart attack. A host of studies have highlighted the cardiovascular health benefits of taking a vacation. In one, men at risk for heart disease who skipped vacations for five consecutive years were 30 percent more likely to suffer heart attacks than those who took at least a week off each year. Even missing one year's vacation was associated with a higher risk of heart disease. Studies find similar results with women: Women who took a vacation once every six years or less were almost eight times more likely to develop heart disease, have a heart attack, or die of a coronary-related cause than those who took at least two vacations a year. These statistics are not to scare you but to persuade you that time off is important to your health in the long run.
- Taking time off from everything may help improve productivity. Employees need time to mentally recharge in order to stay sharp and engaged on the job. In our perpetual rush to be productive, we often undermine our very ability to consistently perform at peak levels. Getting more done in less time allows us to get ahead and be more productive, but it takes consistent focus to be truly productive. Professional services firm Ernst & Young conducted an internal study of its employees and found that for each additional 10 hours of vacation time employees took, their year-end performance ratings improved 8 percent. What's more, frequent vacationers were significantly less likely to leave the firm. Another study by the Boston Consulting Group found that high-level professionals who were required to take time off were significantly more productive overall than those who spent more time working. When you're more productive, you're happier, and when you're happier, you excel at what you do. Vacations can also decrease burnout. Workers who take regular time to relax are less likely to experience burnout, making them more creative and productive than their overworked, under-rested counterparts.
- Vacations may help you sleep better. Researchers say that vacations can help interrupt the habits that disrupt sleep, like working late into the night or watching a backlit screen before bed. Restless nights and disrupted sleep are common complaints--often stemming from the fact that we simply have too much on our minds. When we can't stop the 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. Researchers say, that vacations can help interrupt the habits that disrupt sleep, like working late into the night or watching a backlit screen before bed. If you have stress from work and you find your sleep is disrupted because of anxiety or tension, take time off and learn to reset your sleep pattern. As summer approaches, if you've been putting off your vacation, think again. Take some time off so you can sleep better and be more productive, more relaxed, and healthier.