Work On Your Wellness: Take a Vacation
Everyone needs a few days off from work now and then. Rest and detachment from work are good for health and essential for recovery from stress. There's a significant body of research that indicates that working continuously without a break can increase anxiety, stress, depression, cause physical problems, and lower productivity. A few short vacations a year can bring long-term health benefits and increase overall life satisfaction.
Why you should take a vacation
According to the American Psychological Association, vacations can help to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, lower rates of heart disease, improve physical conditions, such as headaches and back problems. Perhaps more to the point for employers who are inclined to be stingy with time off: Taking a vacation can actually make the average employee more productive.
The benefit one derives from a short or long break depends to some extent on one's ability to disconnect from work altogether. Some people tend to take their work along with them, or answer calls or e-mail, or even just think about work projects. According to a 2017 study by Glassdoor, roughly 66 percent of Americans surveyed said they worked while on vacation.
Why vacations improve wellness
It's not necessary to travel far from home to benefit from a vacation. Disconnecting from work completely for a time, while also enjoying a change of scenery, can make a positive difference.
According to the results of a study wherein researchers surveyed 40 German-speaking middle managers, a short four-night vacation was found to improve general well-being and healing, and reduce strain and stress, independent of the type pf vacation. The researchers found that these positive effects on healing, as well as well-being and strain, were still discernible 30 and 45 days, respectively, after the vacation ended.
There's other research too that demonstrates the positive effects of short breaks on stress levels and productivity. Even a weekend doing something creative, or spending time in nature, or exploring museums and art galleries in your city can be relaxing and restorative, enabling you to return to work feeling rested and recharged.
Not everyone can afford to fly to an exotic location in Asia or Europe — to say nothing of travel restrictions imposed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic — or even travel far from one's home city. It's not necessary to vacation far from home or stay in a luxury hotel, however, or at a wellness resort and spa.
Workers should do what their individual circumstances permit, and what they find that they like. Provided you take your mind off work and engage yourself in something else, and in a very different setting, you will still benefit greatly.
The pandemic has resulted in many people cancelling vacation plans due to infection fears, risks, and travel restrictions. Also, those who have experienced a dip in productivity could be skipping breaks in the hope that, if they go on working instead of taking a holiday, then they may be able to compensate for loss of productivity.
Working all the time, however, even during short breaks, can be harmful for mental and physical health. If stress is left to build up, it can prove seriously detrimental to mental well-being, performance, and even one's ability to continue at his job. It's important to give yourself short vacations a few times a year, no matter whether you do a short road trip, explore different neighborhoods in your town, or hit the nature trail.
Save on the cost of travel and accommodations
It's possible to organize a nice break for yourself for much less than the cost of a conventional vacation. It's easier to shortlist options if you go by your special interests rather than be influenced by the choices of friends or co-workers.
Think of doing something totally different from your work and everyday routine — and in a different environment — even if it's just a short drive away from where you live and work. There is almost certainly a beach or a national park nearby, a cabin in a forest or in the mountains, or another town or city close to where you live.
If you love the outdoors, there are plenty of low-cost options, including hiking and cycling in the woods, along quiet country roads, and traffic-free lanes. If there's a national park near you, that might be a good way to get away from it all and soak up the fresh air and immerse yourself in nature. A short road trip might suit those who enjoy being on the highway.
Renting an Airbnb at a location of your choice close by, even just for a few days, might be the right thing if you like to write, or read, or draw, or cook. Doing something you love in a new and pleasant environment is possible without spending too much.
You don't even have to leave your city if your circumstances don't permit. You can take a cultural tour, or long walks exploring different neighbourhoods, spend time at urban parks, or try out some new restaurants. Whatever you choose to do, get some time outdoors. This is widely believed to be beneficial for both physical and mental health.
Why some of us hoard (or simply don't use) PTO
Americans, in particular, tend not to take all their paid leave. According to a U.S. Travel Association study published in 2019, 768 million paid vacation days weren't used in 2018. An eye-opening 55 percent of workers surveyed in the U.S. said they hadn't utilized all their paid vacation.
In the IT industry, many people tend to overwork because they have high workloads, a lot is expected of them, and being available on the phone after office hours has become common practice. At some companies, it is part of the work culture.
Some miss out on paid vacation days because they just don't have the time. If they take a break, they fear they won't be able to complete their work. Others take a break, but are unable to detach from work because they're expected to be available on e-mail or phone all the time. It's not easy to let go off work when you have a high-pressure job.
According to the American Psychological Association, taking your mind off work after office hours and while on leave, is linked to lower incidence off stress and burnout, improved sleep, better health, and higher job satisfaction.
Set some boundaries, such as an automated �'out of office'' or �away on vacation� response for your official e-mail, and avoid checking e-mail, and taking official calls when you're on holiday. Inform your clients that you will be on vacation.
It might take a little training to take your mind off work. Try meditating for at least 30 minutes every day. That can help calm the mind and develop one's ability to live in the present.