Why You REALLY Need to Take a Vacation
Our thanks to Dr. Davana Pilczuk of The Human Performance Group for this article. Dr. Pilczuk is an award-winning kinesiologist who specializes in human performance, including mental health best practices, like recognizing when you need a vacation. She is a speaker, writer and consultant for Fortune 500 companies, sports teams and small businesses.
You need a vacation, my friend. Yes, you.
If you weathered the storm of last 16 months, and feel worn out, listen to your body. Its probably physically and mentally wiped out from all the stressors it’s been hit with and it needs a break. I understand you have a business to run and things to do but start to view vacation time like it was medicine. The human body needs breaks, both physical and mental, if it is going to continue to perform well. It isn’t a weakness. It’s just how we are built. Athletes can’t train at high intensities indefinitely. They have times when they train hard, times they taper in order to compete, and times they slow down and recover. Going hard for too long can lead them to injury and exhaustion a term we call “over training.” You are no different.
Start viewing vacation time as that recovery time athletes use to recharge, refocus and mentally prepare for another tough season. Without it, you’ll over train and eventually burnout.
Negotiate more time
If you are starting a new job or are in a position to negotiate your current pay, I highly recommend asking for more vacation time. Most everyone looks just at salary and bonus pay, but vacation time is hugely important to your long-term performance.
View it as a time to be creative and not encumbered with the day-to-day minutia of your normal job duties. And vacations don’t mean you need to leave where you live. It’s just ‘you time,’ and your body and mind desperately need that break to maintain high levels of performance.
Taking a day off every other month may not leave you feeling completely refreshed when you return to work, but those down days away from the desk can give you time to work in the yard, plan a family movie night or have a nice lunch downtown with a friend. Plus, it’s actually during those down times that the creative side of your brain kicks in gear and comes up with new ideas and projects for work.
How long to leave
Research has found that it takes a solid three days to decompress from your job, especially if you are in mentally stressful positions like sales or management. It takes a while for the brain to stop ruminating about your to-do list or for you to stop checking your emails every two seconds.
After those first three days, then your vacation can actually begin. My recommendation is to take off a minimum of five days straight. Ideally, a solid week is what you need to feel refreshed when you return to work. And you may not like to hear this, but the people you work with will probably enjoy the long break from you as well!
What to do
Do things that feed your soul. If you love good wine and cheese, then go to a winery and indulge in the ambiance and relax. If you like thrills and excitement, go to a theme park. What makes you feel not just happy, but alive? Go do that. Finding places and activities that force you to disengage from your job is food for your soul.
Careful with family vacations though. They can be some of the most stressful times simply due to the task of traveling with everyone and trying to coordinate and please multiple needs. Use those times to be with your loved ones, but then schedule time later in the year that’s really for you to recover. I love Mickey, but after being in Orlando for three days in the heat and crowds, I feel more exhausted than when I arrived!
Right now, burnout is a very real problem. People who suffer from burnout don’t realize that it often starts slowly and happens because we continually push ourselves to work, but fail to care for our own needs. We push our bodies and don’t allow ourselves ample recovery time to just relax, enjoy a hot shower or get a massage. Many of us see these things as “nice to have” when they aren’t at all. They are “need to have” because your body and mind need time to rest and play. They are crucial to our existence.
Commit to using your vacation time, even if it feels uncomfortable to do so. Your body and mind will thank you when you return to the office.