Could You Use a Vacation?

 In Better Life, Health

It’s been a long time since I’ve missed sending out a weekly tip on a Sunday evening, but I had a good excuse.  Sunday I was hiking around Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada.  What a beautiful place!  Here’s a picture of my daughter and me at the top of some magnificent rock formations. In fact, my family and I took a 10 day vacation that included visiting my parents in Phoenix and renting an RV so we could tour around southwest Utah.  It’s the longest family vacation we’ve taken since my daughter was born.  

A common trend I noticed as we hiked through Zion and Bryce Canyon is that most people were not speaking English.  People from all over the world were enjoying the National Monuments.  Why were there so few people from the U.S.?  Surveys show that Americans only use half of their paid time off (~ 10 vacation days and 6 holidays) and about 70% say they work while on vacation.  Some say it’s because they feel guilty or they’re afraid they will be seen as lazy and be passed up for a promotion.  Others say the work just piles up while they’re gone. Workers in other countries take much more time off.  People living in France, Germany, and Scandinavia routinely take as much as six weeks off annually. 

Studies suggest that more vacation actually reduces our risk of having a heart attack and that infrequent vacations can increase our risk of dying overall.  Yet the current model of success and the culture at many companies has us working more hours and staying connected to our work even when we are supposedly “off the clock.”  Research shows that we need to take a break and decompress so we can be at our best at work (and at home).  Maybe we should ask if the life we are working so hard to create is fun to live?

When’s the last time you disconnected and took a vacation?  You don’t have to travel far; just doing or seeing something different can be a great break.

Tina Hallis, Ph.D., is founder and owner of The Positive Edge, a company dedicated to helping individuals and organizations increase their positivity to improve the quality of people’s work lives and the quality of company cultures.

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