Perhaps this blog topic is just a marketing scheme to get people to consider taking a trip or perhaps it is inspired by the fact that as I write this I am sitting on a dock, drink in one hand and computer on my lap, watching the sun go down while I feel more relaxed than I have in months. The fact remains however that work related stress and burnout affect a large percentage of our population and the tried-and-true method for dealing with these feelings is to simply take a break. Everyone needs a vacation.
Employers are under no legal obligation to provide workers with a light at the end of the tunnel also known as “vacation days”, paid or unpaid, whether you work on a salary basis, commission or get paid an hourly wage. Yet many companies offer employees vacation days and holiday time and this isn’t just to lure you in like a moth to a flame and trick you into accepting their job offering.
Studies and doctors agree that taking the occasional vacation is actually good for your mental and physical health. There have been strong links found between vacation time and longevity. According to the Framingham Heart Study research project, people who go on vacation just once a year decrease their risk factors for heart disease by a whopping 20%. Aside from the direct health benefits; time away can also improve your leadership skills and will help put your work in perspective.
Companies realize that rested employees with outlets for their stress and time off are healthier overall and become stronger assets to the business with better problem solving skills and creative, cost saving solutions. In fact, some companies even demand that their employees use the available time off. Case in point: I was recently at a point where I had gone almost a year without taking a vacation and my employer started sending me not so subtle e-mails reminding me how many days I had available.
And now that I have spent eight days sitting in the sun down by the water with a book and sunscreen, doing absolutely nothing work related, I find myself more focused on the task at the hand. And despite the pile of work I know will be sitting on my desk and the flood of e-mails that await me upon return, I know that I can handle it and approach it in a less frantic and stress free manner while still meeting my deadlines and exceeding the company’s expectations.
Everyone needs a vacation now and again, whether you go to Thailand and ride elephants or go to your cottage and blame the bad cell phone reception for not being able to check your voicemail. Your work will wait, your company will survive without you, and you will return more relaxed, focused and healthier than you were prior to your trip.
And if your employer hesitates, just tell them that it is per doctor’s orders.