Midsummer — it’s time to head to the beach or the cabin at the lake or Nevada’s cavernous air-conditioned casinos. The sad truth is, too many people are not going anywhere. They’re not leaving their job, regardless of the season or the wealth of tempting options for travel and relaxation. Although about three-quarters of U.S. workers accrue vacation time, more than half don’t use all of the days allotted to them each year.
This is a huge mistake considering how beneficial vacations are. There are lots of anecdotal reports of time off delivering health benefits, including relief from maladies such as repetitive stress injuries, aches and pains, psychosomatic illness, and nocturnal bruxism. Travel has been cited as a sure path to such all-American goals as weight loss and improved love life, both of which can impact health and well-being.
There’s also solid, research-supported evidence that regular vacations can have a positive effect on at least a dozen conditions, including heart health, stress, and depression. Even planning for out-of-the-office time can deliver a shot of happiness that can last for weeks. And if you’re worries about “going back to normal” after being off, don’t be — here are 16 ways to regain your focus after a vacation.
There is a catch, of course. To get the most health benefits from a vacation you have to unplug — really get away from the job. Tell the boss you’re unreachable. Don’t even talk about the job.
Even if you’re part of the gig economy with no paid vacation, taking time off the job is well worth it. It’s amazing how much the break can clear your mind. A mind constantly preoccupied with deadlines isn’t necessarily a creative one. Freeing yourself from the hamster wheel of routine will reset your efficiency and freshness.
After all, who wants to end up making a final statement a la “The Simpsons” C. Montgomery Burns: “I guess this is the end. I just wish I’d spent more time at the office.”