Taking vacations and time off is often frowned upon in the working world. It’s associated with laziness, lack of work ethic, and lack of willpower. But there are so many reasons why it’s important to take time off and so ask for time off in a strategic and acceptable way.
Of course, sometimes, when employees are off for multiple weeks it can put others in the same team in a difficult situation. It can increase the stress and workload for others, especially if the team is small. However, I recently took a five day trip to Portland, Oregon, for a change of scenery. Pre-vacation, I was having trouble sleeping, not able to focus and even had a lack of appetite. Burn-out is not something that happens overnight, but is the product of accumulation of smaller stressors, irritations that become bottled up for too long. While everyone’s bs-capacity is different (I call it the bs-capacity for the amount of irritations one is able to handle), there is a limit for everyone, and it’s good to identify that early on to prevent the burnout after-effects we’re familiar with.
Vacations are a change to our routine
Even if you’re a control-freak and try to plan every aspect of your vacation, there’s still a degree of surprise. We don’t know exactly how the road trip will turn out or how the “planned destination” will look. In fact, what you see on google images when you search for a destination can be entirely different in person. When I stood on the beach on the Oregon coast, I tasted the salty sea air, I smelled the fishy seafoam and I felt the breeze of a chilly coastal morning. For me, personally, because work and school can be highly structured, I do a rough plan of the day on my vacation but don’t plan for where to eat or when to wake up. That’s the best part of unplugging from routine.
Vacations help improve creativity
As a very creative and artistic person, I love working on side projects—whether it be writing an article or improving my home garden. When work or school stress becomes overwhelming, I feel defeated before I even start on anything creative. When I get to the project, I get a sense of mental block that makes me unproductive for hours. My most recent vacation sparked new ideas and gave me more breathing space to think outside of the box.
Vacations improve sleep
One of the common complaints I hear working in a healthcare field is the complexity and bustle of everyday life causing unprecedented levels of insomnia in this generation. Of course, when we think about it, we’re surrounded by technology that enhances our productivity but is also available 24/7. Ironically, this means that instead of freeing up more time for us, technology sometimes creates more work for us. Work that is never-ending. It starts when we see the first notification on the phone and ends, well, it only ends if we put our phone on “do not disturb”. Hence why vacations are important. During the day on vacations, we go on excursions and see new places. At the end of the day you’re exhausted from the excursions but in a good way! I still remember the feeling of barely remembering what it’s like to work during a vacation.