- The benefits of taking vacation are significant, and backed up by science and analysis
- There are physical, psychological, work, societal and personal benefits to vacation
- In 2020, it’s more tempting than ever to defer time off – but it’s critical to use your time off to rest, recuperate and re-energize
We’ve all been there – we know we are due for a vacation, but it’s a busy time at work and the team is short-staffed and can we really ask our team mates to cover for us …? It’s all too easy to talk ourselves out of booking time off, leaving earned and needed vacation on the table. And with the lack of travel options and work from home settings of 2020, it’s easier than ever to let vacation slide.
Research tells us that this is a bad idea though. Vacation is good for our bodies, our minds, and even our teams. Why?
The research is clear – vacation is good for our physical and mental health. It makes intuitive sense – when we step away from the stresses and strains of daily life, we give our bodies and minds some much needed rest. Vacation is an opportunity catch up on sleep and invest time in our hobbies. And it gives us time and space to re-boot some of those healthy habits, like healthy eating, drinking water, and exercise, that can fall to the wayside during busy periods.
Stress takes a toll on our physical health, and regular vacation can be part of the antidote. Science tells us, for example, that those who vacation regularly have a significantly lower likelihood of suffering from heart disease (when we factor in the health care costs associated with serious illness, it seems vacation offers a societal benefit, too).
Mental health is equally important, and vacation can be beneficial here too. Vacation helps us get our stress levels under control, engage our creativity, and re-focus and re-energize. We can use our vacation to engage in activities that boost mental health, such as spending time outdoors and in green spaces, meditating, or simply having time to lower our pace and relax.
Vacation does not just benefit us personally, though. For those who feel vacation is selfish, consider the benefits to your organization. We aim to be high performers, but the reality is, a consistent high level of performance is impossible to maintain without taking breaks.
Burnout is real – and it’s costly. In fact, a study estimates that the cost to businesses may be upwards of $190B per year. Taking vacation is an essential tool to minimize burnout and keep employees fresh and focused on the job.
Another, more subtle benefit of vacation to companies is that it prevents any individual from positioning themselves (even inadvertently) as indispensable – a risk factor for any business. When an individual takes vacation, team members are forced to step in and ensure their essential functions continue in their absence, giving the team an opportunity to develop skills and ensure business continuity.
Additionally, if you are a leader, taking vacation can be used as an opportunity to allow rising stars on your team the opportunity to lead, make decisions, and handle problems in your absence – an essential part of building succession plans.
A Life Well Lived
There are compelling health and business reasons to take your vacation, and to encourage your teams to do the same. In the end, though, the most compelling reason to take vacation is because they are an important part of a life well lived. Time for family and friends, time to slow down and reflect, time to experience the world – these are all essential to a successful life (of which our careers are an important – but not the only – part).