Give Me a Break!

June 8, 2014 by Rose Cook

BeachBreakLast month Lynn discussed the importance of having work/life balance and how we often get into the bad habit of putting our professional life ahead of everything else. I thought about this as I was enjoying Disney with my family last week and wondered why sometimes it’s so hard to just take a break? Recent studies have shown that many employees are leaving nearly a week of vacation unused every year. According to Elizabeth Scott in an article titled “The Importance of Vacations, for Stress Relief, Productivity and Health”, many people aren’t taking annual vacations or any time off at all. The sad part is that not taking time off, especially for those of us fortunate enough to get vacation time, is more detrimental to us personally and to our health and well being than it is beneficial to the company.Tory Johnson, CEO of Women for Hire, explains that many of us choose to sacrifice our time off because of fear of job security and the stress of falling behind. Even when the opportunity for time off occurs, we’re connected with our phones or laptops checking email and messages. I know I’m guilty of this and quite honestly, sometimes it’s hard to stop myself! Last week while I was in Florida I found that the wifi and cell service was very poor so checking in with the office wasn’t really feasible. What initially was a small moment of panic when I realized I would likely be out of touch for most of the week, quickly turned into the realization that the walls would not crumble without me! How refreshing it was to just simply enjoy the moment and not think about anything else except the next attraction we wanted to visit. 
Employers are beginning to realize that having their employees step away and take the vacation time they’ve earned is beneficial to everyone.  According to the article by Elizabeth Scott, vacations help prevent burnout and make us more productive. Time off lowers stress and enables us to recharge our batteries often leading to more productivity and higher job performance when we return. A win-win for everyone!
If that’s not enough to encourage you to schedule a vacation, Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D, might be able to convince you. “When you’re stressed out and tired, you are more likely to become ill, your arteries take a beating, and you’re more likely to have an accident. Your sleep will suffer, you won’t digest your food as well, and even the genetic material in the cells of your body may start to become altered in a bad way. Mentally, not only do you become more irritable, depressed and anxious, but your memory will become worse and you’ll make poorer decisions. You’ll also be less fun to be with, causing you to become more isolated, lonely and depressed.”

Whether it’s a grand trip somewhere amazing or a stay-cation at home reading a good book, the important thing is that you take the break you’ve earned and certainly the break you deserve. So what are you waiting for?  Schedule that vacation and I’d love to hear how you spent that time off!

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