Many people, especially entrepreneurs, are pushing and working hard. Before long, they become burned out and begin resenting their work and the people around them. Just as it’s important to take some time off the gym so your body can recuperate, it’s equally important to take some time off work to just relax. This means NO Blackberry, NO laptop, NO email, NO work-related talk. Use your personal days. Schedule your vacation time and just unwind. I know you love those work-obsessed sleepless nights… the grande double caramel macchiatos for breakfast, lunch and dinner… giving your kids the “talk to the hand” gesture while you’re answering emails… missing out on visits with the in-laws because you’re conveniently “too busy”… and scratching down To-Do lists while commuting and listening to self-motivational tapes… but you have to JUST LET IT GO!
We’d all like to think we’re titans of industry who are just naturally immune to stress, but it’ll get you. I don’t care if you’re Mahatma Gandhi, Daniel Craig, or Oprah Winfrey. You get stressed. You may not even really realize that you’re a hot little tea kettle waiting for your little whistle to burst into a deafening roar. Before you know it, your stomach is in knots, you’re running to the bathroom with diarrhea, your head is dizzy and your mouth is dry. studies confirm the need for vacation time.
- The Framingham Heart Study (1948 – 1992) found that women who vacationed once every 6 years or less were 8x more likely to develop coronary heart disease or have a heart attack than those who vacationed at least 2x a year.
- A follow-up study (2000) followed 12,000 men over 9 years who were “high risk candidates” for coronary heart disease and revealed that those who did not take annual vacations were 32 percent more likely to die of a heart attack.
- Mark Rosekind, president of Alertness Solutions consulting firm, conducted a 2006 study that monitored sleep quality of vacationers who traveled from the Western United States to New Zealand. He found that after 2-3 days, people were averaging an hour more of quality sleep and had an 80 percent improvement in reaction time. When they returned home, their reaction time was still 30 – 40 percent higher.
- Couples who take vacations together are more satisfied with their marriages than couples who don’t, according to a study by the Arizona Department of Health and Human Services.
Proponents of vacation time say that more mandatory vacation days could add 2 to 4 percent onto the labor costs of a business, but that would be balanced out by less sick days and less turn-over. The “Vacation Deprivation” study by Expedia found that more than half of the people returning from vacation felt rested, rejuvenated and more connected with family. Over a third of all workers felt more connected and positive about their jobs when they returned.
America is considered the most “vacation deprived nation” in the developed world. Did you know the average American only has 13 vacation days per year, compared to 15 in Japan, 19 in Canada, 26 in the UK and 38 in France? Even though we have the least amount of days off, most Americans still have 3 unused vacation days at the end of the year.
The idea of a Disney vacation with hordes of screaming kids or a wild sleepless week in Vegas with your friends might not exactly seem “rejuvenating” when you think about it. Many people say they return feeling like they need a “vacation from their vacation.” Yet, experts agree: 1) You need at least 7 days off, and 2) You need to leave all mobile devices behind. If you suspect your trip will be grueling, schedule one extra day when you return to relax.