It’s a sad fact of modern life that we all prioritize our careers over taking time to do the other important things that make up a fulfilling life.
Sure, career advancement is brilliant. And the feeling of accomplishment that accompanies workplace success makes the long hours and weekends seem worth it.
But is it advisable, or even healthy to neglect taking time off?
Is Working Non-Stop Worth it?
As trite as it sounds, it’s still something that bears repeating; no one ever regretted not spending enough time at work on their deathbed.
If you speak to any group of retirees you’ll likely hear a litany of regrets:
- I wish I’d spent more time raising my kids
- Taking more family vacations would have been nice
- The time flew by! I feel like I never really lived
- I always wanted to visit there, but it’s too late now
You get the idea.
Life is extraordinarily short, and many opportunities to create magical memories can slip by unnoticed leaving your memories full of dry, dusty days under fluorescent lighting at a desk and stuck in rush hour traffic.
Vacations and Your Relationships
Whether you’re married to the love of your life or still in the dating phase with a special somebody – why would you miss out on the chance to see an exotic new locale through the eyes of someone in love.
Creating special memories with your partner on a vacation is an amazing way to enrich your relationship and create a bond that may last through stresses and events that would ordinarily tear people apart from each other.
Shared, beautiful memories protect relationships from the disappointments and exhaustion of daily life that could otherwise end them.
According to a study published in the Wisconsin Medical Journal; women who vacationed less than twice per year were more likely to:
- Experience depression
- Feel tense
- Experience greater sensations of exhaustion
- Enjoy less marital satisfaction
The study concludes that women who vacation often are much less likely to experience tension, depression, or fatigue. They are also more satisfied with their marriages.
The personal psychological benefits that lead to an increased quality of life could also lead to improved performance in all other aspects of daily life.
In other studies, researchers discovered that the shared experiences of a vacation enhanced communication, a sense of togetherness, and shared experiential learning that positively contributed to family well-being and improved relationships.
Take a Break for Your Health!
The effects of stress and overwork on the body are insidious.
Our bodies respond to the daily challenges of work, commuting, school, and interpersonal relationships by producing cortisol and adrenaline – two hormones that set up the “fight or flight” reflex we inherited from our Paleolithic ancestors.
Long periods of stress, without relief, are like driving your car down the highway with one foot on the gas and the other one on the brakes. Not a good idea.
There are real world health consequences to working non-stop.
Going on vacation takes you away from the incessant demands that routine work commitments place on you physically and emotionally.
According to a 1997 paper published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, there was a positive correlation between the amount spent on vacation and the prevention of workplace “burnout.”
Study participants experienced a decline in perceived burnout during the vacation and a return to normal performance and contentment levels by the end of a two-week break from work spent in a pleasant locale.
The workers studied maintained the benefits they realized from their time off for an extended period (5 weeks) afterward – the vacationers reported less stress-related physical complaints such as:
- Stomach discomfort
Keep Your Heart Happy
Stress can have a horrible effect on your heart health. Many studies have demonstrated a correlation between heart disease and extended periods of work without a vacation. Men who skipped vacation for five years in a row were up to 30% more likely to suffer a heart attack than men who vacationed at least one week per year.
Women are just as susceptible to the health impact of skipping vacation. Women who only vacationed once every six years (or less) were 8 times more likely to develop some form of heart disease!
It’s no exaggeration to say that taking regular time off from work is as important as eating right and getting regular exercise to maintain optimum heart health.
Sleep Like a Baby
It’s a fact that the blue light from the various screens in your life; phone, laptop, tablet, monitors, is disrupting your natural sleep cycle.
Vacation is the time to unplug from email. Texts, social media, and project management software to enjoy the benefits of natural, outdoor light on your body clock.
We’ve experienced the delightful feeling of laying in bed after a long day spent at the beach or hiking in the woods. You’re enjoying the benefits of hours of healthy physical activity and sunlight.
Instead of rehashing workplace worries and conflicts as you close your eyes – you’ll be thinking about the gorgeous views, fun activities, and quality time you’ve recently passed with friend and family.
Recharge for Increased Productivity
Research has consistently shown that working without a break is directly correlated to reduced workplace productivity; leading to an increased likelihood of both missed days of work due to illness and a higher incidence of quitting.
No matter how enjoyable you may find your career or how stimulating you find the routine challenges of your workplace – there is a point when it becomes an exhausting grind. The human mind is not designed to thrive on endless repetition.
We all need to step away from it all once in a while. Being told you need to run one mile is very different from being ordered to run – and never stop. We all need to know that we can stop after a while, no matter what the activity.
Vacations enable you to stimulate your mind with new experiences, create fulfilling memories, and give you the chance to return to work with a refreshed point of view that makes your work day more enjoyable (until your next vacation!).
Have You been Putting it Off?
Have you been putting off your vacation?
Enjoy the benefits of time off:
- Better health
- Less stress
- Improved sleep
- Better relationships
And recharge yourself to become more productive and happier at work when you get back!