Think about the last vacation you took. Where did you go? What did you do? How did it feel to be away? How did it feel to come back?
Vacations – both physical and mental – are an important aspect of self-care. There is a wealth of research to support the benefits of taking regular vacations, which include reduced stress, better focus and concentration, improved mood, and increased physical health. One business study even showed that you’re more likely to get a raise or bonus if you take 11 or more days of vacation compared to 10 or less!
Despite these benefits, many of us do not take vacations as often as we can or should. Why not? What gets in the way?
You might be the kind of person who prides yourself on never taking a day off, who always pushes through no matter what.
You might feel guilty for taking time away from your responsibilities.
You might not be much of a planner and don’t build vacation time into your schedule, so it just never happens.
You might believe that it’s unproductive to take time off.
Do any of these justifications ring true for you?
Vacations are opportunities to rest and recharge. They help us to avoid burnout and maintain energy and efficiency over the long term.
It’s important to remember that a vacation doesn’t need to be an expensive or extravagant getaway. A weekend camping trip or “unplugged” time at home can be just as restoring as a far-away adventure, as long as you incorporate these key elements:
Plan ahead. This reduces stress and improves the benefits of your time off
Get away from work. This means shutting off notifications and resisting the urge to check or respond to texts, emails, voicemails, etc!
Delegate. This can be hard for those of us who have a hard time letting go of control! Find someone you trust to whom you can direct urgent messages and requests. Remember that there was a time before wi-fi, and we all survived.
Let go. Do things that make you feel good and cultivate joy! Also remember that there’s no point in doing something fun and relaxing if you’re not an active participant in the process. Let go of worries so that you can be fully in the moment. If this is something you struggle with, developing a mindfulness practice may be helpful, which you can read more about here.
If you don’t already have your next vacation planned, what are you waiting for? Go away!
Further reading and references: