Taking time off can feel a little self-indulgent;
It’s understandable to feel guilty that while you’re off at the beach or watching a film at home, your co-workers are still at their desks ensuring that the company is running.
Some people give into those feelings of guilt and opt not to use their vacation days.
On the surface this might seem like a good idea; you become more productive and you’re no doubt benefiting the economy. Except this idea that more work equals higher productivity is a fallacy, and in fact, the opposite is true.
According to a study by Oxford Economics, Americans are on average only using 77 percent of their paid time off. That equates to an average of 3.2 unused paid leave days.
There are a number of reasons why that allocated holiday time isn’t being taken.
Employees are scared about the workload they’ll have to return to. A more pressing concern is being branded by managers and other coworkers that by taking time off they aren’t committed to the job.
They’re scared about their job security and don’t want to jeopardize that by being seen as a slacker. But it’s actually imperative that employees take that time off work.
1. Stress Reliever
Working incessantly can be stressful.
There’s a limit to what both your body and mind can take, and you edge closer to that threshold the longer you work without taking time to relax and reset mentally. Stress takes a serious toll on your health.
It diminishes the hours you sleep and the quality of your sleep, alters your mood and decision-making abilities, and can even affect your relationships.
There are a number of everyday steps you can take to reduce stress, but taking extended time off from your job allows you to forget about those nagging deadlines and those e-mails you think you just have to reply to.
It separates you from the demands of work and puts you in a space where you can work on your own self-development.
This ultimately means when you return to work from your “down time,” your “up time” will increase in quality dramatically, and you’ll find yourself re-energized and ready to work harder.
2. It’s Good for the Economy
This might seem counter-intuitive.
How can working less time possibly improve the economy?
Surely every hour devoted to production is beneficial to the GDP? This is true to an extent, but you have to look at the bigger picture.
Take America as an example. For the average of 3.2 paid time off days not being used per person, that equates to a total of 429 million unused vacation days.
Those are days that workers would no doubt spend paying for hotels, drinking beer at a bar, sinking money into their car restoration, paying for concert tickets, taking it easy with some retail therapy and treating their dates to amusement park rides.
In short, they would be spending money. And it’s that type of spending that encourages job creation and industry growth.
In the same example, if all Americans took complete advantage of their unused leave days, the economy would gain an additional $160 billion in business sales and $21 billion in tax revenue, all the while generating an additional 1.2 million jobs.
Where To Go?
Now that you understand why it’s important to take time off from work the big question is where to spend those unused vacation days.
It’s imperative to ensure that your breaks are long enough and frequent enough so that you have an appropriate resting period. Everyone has different expectations from a holiday, and it´s down to you to decide what’s best for your personal revitalisation.
1. Get Back to Nature
It’s no secret that spending time in the great outdoors is good for you.
Getting in touch with and nurturing a connection with nature makes people healthier and happier. It’s been shown to improve short-term memory, restore mental energy as well as offer relief from stress.
It’s a way of putting the congestion and cramped spaces of the city behind you and branching out (pun intended) into the leafy wilderness.
You have a wide range of options here. Hiking and camping make for a good weekend away. If there’s a lake nearby then you could go try your hand at fishing.
And if there’s a coast that’s accessible and you’re keen to test out your balancing skills, then a surfing holiday is definitely the way to go. In recent years, however, there has been a movement combining all of these pastimes.
A growing number of people have taken to re-purposing old vans and turning them into habitable vehicles. They usually come equipped with a double bed, small kitchen and some storage space and are perfect for one or two people.
It can take a while and maybe cost a bit of money, but once the van is completely refitted then it offers unlimited freedom and can go pretty much anywhere.
Simply strap a surfboard to your roof, a pair of hiking boots and a fishing pole in the trunk and you’re ready to roam anywhere you fancy.
If buying a camper-van isn’t your style but you’d still like to roam the countryside, you can always hire one. There are a number of different sites such as Campanda that offer this service, and this means you can start traveling immediately, without the need for renovations.
2. Take A Culture Trip
If you’re not the outdoorsy type then perhaps exploring cities is a better option.
Exploring the ancient architecture of cities, meandering through streets and visiting museums and art galleries is an excellent way to spend your vacation time while learning about cultures and civilizations.
The only downside to this option is where to go; the world’s a big place and there are thousands of amazing cities and cultures to see.
If you’d like to cram in as much as possible, then hooking up with a travel company like Contiki is a good way to cover a number of cities in a short space of time.
They cover all of your flights and hotel costs to a destination as well as plan the itinerary so that you see some the most salient landmarks a city has to offer.
You’ll also be on the road with like-minded travelers and are sure to meet some interesting people.
Don’t feel bad for relaxing. Instead, use your vacation days to revitalize your body and mind, and you’re bound to come back with a renewed vigor and a spring in your step.
Do you think taking time off is important for success? Leave a comment below.