Guest Post by Dee Mason
In today’s economy, there is often a fear of appearing to “slack off” or relax on the job. Additionally, as companies downsize, those people who hold onto their positions are left scrambling to do work that used to be divided among their colleagues. This combination of factors has translated into a decrease in the amount of vacation time among workers worldwide. Those people who do still have vacations time, often find it necessary to take their laptops, Blackberries, and files with them in order to continue working. While this is more efficient superficially, it can have negative effects on work output in the long run. Vacation time, true “downtime” of any type, is vitally important to mental, emotional, and physical health. The healthier we are in mind, body, and spirit, the more efficient and productive we can be in our daily lives.
Countless studies have shown that daily exercise, meditation, or activities that slow the mind and body down, in combination with appropriate sleep patterns, improve and maintain health. When on vacation, the ability to adhere to a lifestyle that is beneficial to one’s health and longevity is a far more practicable option. According to a study published in the journal, Psychosomatic Medicine, in which over 10,000 men taking part in a heart health study were questioned about their vacation habits over the course of nine years, those participants who took regular vacations were 20% less likely to die of causes unrelated to old age, than their non-vacationing counterparts. More importantly, they were found to suffer from heart disease 30% less, as well. Women are equally in need of vacation time, but often use it unwisely. Those women who find the time to take a vacation have a habit of bringing their work, or the energy they put into work, with them on their trip. Instead of relaxing, they over-schedule their time, cramming in site seeing expeditions, trips to yoga, the manicurist, the winery, etc., instead of allowing themselves the space to do nothing. They end up negating the good of the vacation time by simple dint of over-activity.
When vacationing, it is vital to allow yourself time to “wind down” from the hectic lifestyle you left behind, recover through sleep and proper eating habits, and then reset by finding the new rhythm that comes with a slower pace of life. Mind you, it is difficult to find the time in most work schedules to take a vacation that long. If it is possible, however, you owe it to yourself to truly leave the work-a-day world behind and revel in a time and space devoid of responsibilities. Interestingly enough, when you give yourself this time and space, you will return to your old life more creative, focused, and ready for any challenge. By freeing up emotional, mental, and physical energy that may have been blocked by work commitments, big decisions that seemed impossible to tackle will suddenly feel far less earth shattering. By clearing your mind during your vacation, you will be able to view all sides of a situation with more clarity, and have more patience with yourself during the decision making process. Find the ideal vacation location for you, be it a ski Sweden package, a boat cruise in the Bahamas, or a few quiet weeks in the seclusion of the Virginia woods. However you decide to do it, you owe yourself a vacation. Your body, mind, and heart will thank you for it.