Okay, it might sound a little bit irrational, irresponsible, and it might even get you fired, so don’t take it literally. During my career, I have never taken a real vacation. There was always something to be done while I wasn’t working so I was always busy. It didn’t really bother me to be honest. I liked getting more things done, but what I hadn’t realized then was that I was slowly getting stressed out, antsy, making me feel tired all the time.
I didn’t really take a proper vacation because I didn’t think it would actually help me. It’s just one or two weeks of doing nothing productive – who needs that, right?
Well, almost three weeks ago I gave it a try, and it was absolutely amazing. For the first week, I was just traveling a lot with my friends, and on my second week of vacation, I just rested at home trying to avoid my computer.
Of course, the majority of the people reading this article aren’t as workaholic as I am, and they probably use their vacation days to actually stop working.
However, what surprised me is that Americans forfeit $34.3 billion in vacation days, according to CNNMoney. Vacation for some people isn’t very accessible. Some people either work overtime to get some extra cash or slack a lot like I tend to do sometimes. Then they use their free time to catch up. I think that being able to discern when is the right time to stop working and take a vacation takes a lot of discipline.
If you feel burned out right now, or if work gets super stressful, here are three reasons why you should drop what you’re doing and take a vacation.
Using information from the Framingham Heart Study, which started in 1948, a study spanning 20 years analyzed questionnaires filled out by women about how often they took vacations. Researchers observed that women who took a vacation once every six years or less were almost eight times more likely to develop coronary heart disease or have a heart attack than those who took at least two vacations a year, said Elaine Eaker, a co-author of the study and president of Eaker Epidemiology Enterprises, a private research company.
Heart diseases are not the only thing you should take into consideration. Stress is indeed a silent killer. Besides the psychological problems stress brings about – like depression, anxiety and so on – stress can also seriously damage your body. Stress is directly related to headaches, diabetes, obesity, ulcers, and accelerated aging.
So, if your boss is on the fence regarding prolonging your vacation time, send him this article. He might choose to give you a few more days of vacation instead of losing a valuable employee. If you are a boss and you aren’t taking a holiday – why don’t you?
2. It opens new perspectives
Writing a new article takes me about two days to do it. That one-day break that I take for disconnecting from writing content kind of resets my mindset helping me look at the content with a fresh pair of eyes.
Taking a vacation from what you do and disconnecting from your day-to-day activities can definitely help you get more creative and break the routine. In my experience, vacations can actually safeguard against creative blocks, improve skills, and invigorate a new enthusiasm for projects. As someone working in marketing, I always valued the opinion of a new employee or an outsider. They weren’t thinking about the same tactics I was thinking of, so their approach was original. When you take a vacation, you kind of get a glimpse of that. You have the experience that you’ve built so far, so in a way, you know what works and what doesn’t, but at the same time you get new ideas and come up with new solutions.
So here I was, with two weeks of doing absolutely nothing on my hands, what am I doing now? Well, I had my first week planned out. I went to the mountains with some friends and had an amazing time without technology and stress. Instead of spending time at night doing outreach, I got to enjoy starry nights with awesome campfires.
(actual photo from my trip)
On my second week of vacation, I planned on visiting some of the coolest places in the Carpathians. I went on a long drive with a friend and I got to enjoy the greatest driving road in the world (don’t take my word for it, Top Gear said that).
The two-week vacation made me happier, but not because I wasn’t working – I absolutely love my job – but because it enabled me to break the routine and get to do and try new things. Also waking up at 12 p.m. was pretty neat.
What I’m trying to say is that so many people feel burned out and they find a vacation to be an absolute waste of time and money. But in reality, doing something else than work for a period of time will actually help you in the long term, for it brings more sanity in your life.