In these strange and trying times, everyone’s stress levels have been raised a few degrees and that has become the new normal. But what if you knew of an almost infallible antidote for it? One that is backed up by science and anecdotal data alike: a vacation.
Yet, in spite of most companies in the U.S. offering some kind of paid time off as an employee benefit, more than half of Americans opt out of it according to a 2018 report by the U.S. Travel Association. Sounds crazy, right? Culturally, we glorify workaholics and label them with euphemisms like “hard workers,” “selfless team players,” and so on. Even though they are just overtly caffeinated, perennially tired people. So, please, don’t leave any paid time off on the table this year. You have worked hard for it (oh, the irony). Start planning a trip right now.
Need more convincing? Consider this:
1. Long Hours Do Not Equate Enhanced Productivity
The average working week in Norway is 33.3 hours, and in some cases 27 hours is considered “full-time.” Yet, depending on which report you look at, the nation is consistently ranked somewhere between 1-3 in the world when it comes to productivity. Not surprisingly, reports also show the Norwegian workforce is Europe’s happiest. There’s a correlation here, but it may be worth exploring this paradigm for yourself as you take a stroll in Oslo. Lovely city, by the way.
2. Taking A Break Increases Creativity
There’s only so much your creative juices can do when you place non-stop demands on them. Whether it is thinking strategically, coming up with new ideas, or simple problem solving, they all become imperiled when we overwork. Taking time off and occupying your mind with the sounds, smells, and feel of another place recharges that energy. It’s like hitting the reboot button on a device. Additionally, a 2009 study by Adam Galinsky, a professor at Columbia Business School, found that travel increases cognitive flexibility and depth. Galinsky found out that when travelers immerse themselves in a cultural experience, the benefits are even greater.
3. Vacations Improve Physical Health
Working too much can kill you. It’s that scarily simple. Clocking 55 or more hours a week at work is a “serious health hazard,” according to a study by the World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization. The study estimated that excessive working hours led to 745,000 deaths worldwide in 2016. People who work too much often don’t sleep enough, many don’t eat right, and their hearts are more exposed to cortisol (the stress hormone), all of which is dangerous. Going on vacation can make you feel more present and positively stimulated, which is inherently healthy.
4. Vacations Are Fun
It’s obvious, but worth stating. Escaping the everyday routine, taking time for yourself, doing fun activities, taking naps, exploring a new city, tossing the diet out of the window … these are all things we do when on vacation. What’s not to like? Start planning your next getaway. Go!