Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer Arrives: The Value of Vacations

Did you feel it this morning? That thump at 7:28 am was summer arriving. Though here in the Atlanta area we are now into about our 10th straight day of over 90 degree F with another 7 or so coming. So summer feels like it has been here for awhile. But heat is not the only thing that arrives with summer. This is also the vacation season. I am a big believer in vacations. Having just returned from a two week vacation (in Greece) I personally know the value of the R & R (rest and relaxation) and the ability to renew yourself. I came back recharged. (Well actually I came back and immediately checked a lottery ticket to see if I had won hoping I would be able to go permanently, but no luck.) But I did return to things feeling much less stressed.

According to Elizabeth Scott, M.S., in The Importance of Vacations, for Stress Relief, Productivity and Health there are seven effects that vacations have. These include:
  1. Vacations Promote Creativity: A good vacation can help us to reconnect with ourselves, operating as a vehicle for self-discovery and helping us get back to feeling our best.
  2. Vacations Stave Off Burnout: Workers who take regular time to relax are less likely to experience burnout, making them more creative and productive than their overworked, under-rested counterparts.
  3. Vacations Can Keep Us Healthy: Taking regular time off to ‘recharge your batteries’, thereby keeping stress levels lower, can keep you healthier.
  4. Vacations Promote Overall Wellbeing: One study found that three days after vacation, subjects' physical complaints, their quality of sleep and mood had improved as compared to before vacation. These gains were still present five weeks later, especially in those who had more personal time and overall satisfaction during their vacations.
  5. Vacations Can Strengthen Bonds: Spending time enjoying life with loved ones can keep relationships strong, helping you enjoy the good times more and helping you through the stress of the hard times. In fact, a study by the Arizona Department of Health and Human Services found that women who took vacations were more satisfied with their marriages.
  6. Vacations Can Help With Your Job Performance: As the authors of the above study suggest, the psychological benefits that come with more frequent vacations lead to increased quality of life, and that can lead to increased quality of work on the job.
  7. Vacations Relieve Stress in Lasting Ways: It should come as no surprise that vacations that include plenty of free time bring stress relief, but research shows that a good vacation can lead to the experience of fewer stressful days at least five weeks later! That means that vacations are the gift to yourself that keep on giving.
I personally experienced many of the effects of vacation and I am still basking in the memories as I edit the 1641 pictures I took.

I know that many of you cannot afford to take a vacation like I did. (Though mine was frequent flier miles, time share and hotel points.) Some of you are not in a situation to be able to do so. But it is still important to try to get that R & R. Even if you are unemployed getting away from your current day-to-day situation will be helpful. Check out Ms. Scott's article by clicking on the link for some ideas.

It does work, don't I look relaxed in the picture?

5 comments:

Drew Hawkins said...

It's true, you don't have to go out of the country to get a vacation. Sometimes a stay-cation is just as effective. I know I've done this, just taking the time to get away from work related things and explore and unwind seeing things around my area that I am typically too busy to enjoy.

Michael D. Haberman, SPHR said...

Drew:
Thanks, I was hoping someone would mention "staycations." Most of us have interesting things things to see and do around where we live. The important thing is to get some down time.

Barbara A Hughes said...

Hi Mike,
All very good reasons for at least unplugging from all the widgets that chatter incessantly, making it impossible to think, reflect and just let the old brain take a break.
So, what are we afraid of? I see people checking voice mail, email, etc. at children's sporting events, on the beach, in line anywhere. Where does the brain go to wander when we are wired up, being indispensable, on call 24/7? I believe that daydreaming is a valuable pastime but how much of it do we do?
As the Brits would say, have we created a rod for our own back?

Michael D. Haberman, SPHR said...

Very good point Barbara. Just last night on the news they were talking about multitaskers who are constantly connected. They said that it is an early study, but there are really very few people who are good at it. They also think we may be rewiring our brains by not having any down time. Personally I need the down time. But it is hard to obtain. That is why Greece was so nice. No phone, no Internet, unless I walked 3 miles. I think that is why I came back so relaxed.

Cathy Missildine-Martin, SPHR said...

I have really tried over the last few years to de-connect while on vacation, but that is hard for some reason. I think all points are so true, you need some down time to be more effective when you return. This applies to weekends as well. I guess as a business owner I fell always on. I am working on it!!!