Give it a rest!

Author: Dr Frank Gonzales is a clinical psychologist at the National Center for Telehealth & Technology.

Most of us at one time or another have worked with people who pride themselves in never taking a break from their work. Such people can regularly be heard boasting, “I haven’t taken a vacation in X years!” as if this is some kind of badge of honor, resilience, or loyalty. I’m here to tell you — it’s not.

Vacation time is given to us for a reason, and not simply out of the kindness of our employers’ hearts. While our employers may indeed have kind hearts, both we and they get positive benefits when we take advantage of our vacation time. For instance, did you know that taking days off can actually help improve job performance? It’s true! Study after study confirms that the quality of our work actually goes up when we take regular days off and vacations.

Another reason is that vacations (if they’re done right) reduce job-related stress. This in turn also contributes positively to job performance. Also, when we take advantage of our vacation days, we take significant steps toward warding off burnout. When we ward off burnout, we also promote our overall sense of wellbeing. When we feel better, we tend to work better.

A study in the Wisconsin Medical Journal found that women who took frequent vacations tended to experience less depression, tension, and fatigue, and women who rarely took vacations had more stress at home and slept less.

Vacation also allows families to get out of the work/school/housework environment in order to enjoy increased pleasurable time together. Positive enjoyable family time leads to improved relationships all the way around…and who doesn’t benefit from that?

So the message is this: TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR VACATION TIME!!! If you’re on active duty, you get 30 days vacation per year. If you’ve been neglecting your self-care in this area, chances are that you’ve accumulated some carry-over leave from past years. If you work in a government job, you earn vacation regularly with each pay period. In the private sector, vacation is a regular benefit of employment. Do yourself a huge favor by taking some time off at least once a year — rejuvenating, chilling out, and coming back a new and refreshed person. You owe it to yourself and everyone around you!