“I need a vacation.”
I’m willing to bet we’ve all said those words at one point in time. Feelings of exhaustion and disconnectedness typically accompany the phrase. Whether you’ve hit your limit and are feeling burnt out or have simply been working hard for a long stretch, taking a vacation to reset your body and mind pays dividends.
Sometimes actually taking the vacation is the hardest part. After working for several start-up software companies, I came to recognize that the general attitude amongst my peers was:
- We need to work all the time.
- We should be highly available.
- Taking a vacation is for the weak or undedicated.
- Even if you’re on vacation, you should still respond to messages.
I listened to these sentiments for years until I realized that the benefits of vacation far outweigh the negative implications of becoming a workaholic. Recently coming off a week-long getaway, I have felt first hand the benefits that a relaxing vacation brings. Some of my favorite benefits of spending time away from work are below.
Waking up without an alarm is the absolute best. In a world of cramming in extra sleep on Saturday and Sunday mornings, the benefits of being able to wake up without an alarm while on vacation are many. You’ll wake feeling rejuvenated, unhurried, and start your day on the right foot. Better sleep is also associated with increased focus, alertness and memory.
Want to know some easy ways to improve your sleep? Check out these 10 easy changes you can make today for better sleep tonight.
More time to do things you want to do
Hours freed up in the middle of the day allow for endless opportunity or, as a sage man once said, “so much room for activities.” A vacation, or especially a staycation, is the perfect opportunity to do things you’ve been putting off for a while, like a fun project or snuggling up with a great book. My primary vacation activities are reading, finding fun ways to stay active outdoors, and spending time preparing and eating meals with family and friends.
No planning necessary
During an average week, I plan everything from meals to when I’ll work out and do laundry. One of the best things about vacation is to simply be able to ponder, “What should I/we do today?” The options are limitless and completely within your control. Sometimes letting your mind wander can lead to fun, creative ways to pass the time.
Quality time with others, or yourself
In day-to-day life, we often find ourselves squeezing in a 15-minute phone conversation with family and friends or sneaking in a 10-minute meditation between meetings. Vacations, on the other hand, allow for pure, unadulterated, quality time. You can have dinners that last several hours, where you share family history and embarrassing stories. You can lay in the grass and find shapes in the clouds. The hours of quiet, quality time are incredibly precious. Depriving yourself of that time in, especially with older relatives, in favor of work only has the potential for regret in the long run.
Increased motivation and productivity
Results of the American Psychological Association’s Work and Well-being Study reflect that 57% of respondents felt more motivated, and 58% cited an increase in productivity after returning to work following a vacation. That being said, I know the night before returning to work can sometimes feel like the night before surgery, and 42% of survey respondents agreed that they dread returning to work. Try to calm your return-to-work woes by remembering that you’ll feel more motivation once you’re working again.
Struggling to get back into the swing of things? Try one of these 3 productivity hacks to keep things flowing.
Counter-intuitive to the stress-reducing effects of vacation, the act of taking time off from work can be stressful for some. I especially tend to suffer from a work FOMO (fear of missing out) and often feel like I’m missing something crucial while away. The best way I’ve tried to deal with that over the years is by remembering that if I’m doing my job correctly, they shouldn’t need me anyway.
The Work and Well-Being Survey showed that during vacations, 80% of people felt more relaxed, 65% were able to avoid thinking about work, and 63% successfully disengaged from work activities. Overall, these behaviors lead to lower stress, as reported by 57% of respondents. When in doubt, try to refocus your thoughts away from work-related activities so you, too, can de-stress.
Overall, the benefits of vacation are many, each of which outweigh the harmful effects of overworking and burnout. If your company offers a paid-time-off policy, make sure to take advantage through planning vacations or staycations. Never let a good day off go to waste. And be sure to spend the time you have on vacation to do precisely what you want to do, and nothing more.
Have you felt benefits of vacation that I’ve not listed above? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.