In the U.S., we have what can be seen as an unfortunate habit — we work and work and work, often without breaks, until we're exhausted, physically and/or mentally. We pride ourselves on being super busy and jumping from one thing to the next.
Some of this we cannot help because it's the nature of our jobs or there are people depending on us, and to take time off means we aren't getting paid. But then there are those of us who do get paid vacation days and still do not take advantage of them. This post is in reference to the latter.
To backtrack a bit, I was recently reading an article in The Atlantic titled "'Ugh, I'm So Busy': A Status Symbol for Our Time" in which the article talks about how being seen these days as really busy signifies that we possess something so valuable (our skill set, etc) that we are constantly in demand. It's a status symbol. To some degree, I agree with this sentiment and see it often in New York (and am occasionally guilty of this myself). But, on the other hand, I also think some people's situations are under resourced, and so they really are in high demand and hence are always very busy.
Whatever the reasons may be behind that busyness — status symbol or actual constant demands — it means many Americans are taking less vacation time. Much less vacation time than other parts of the working world. It's not uncommon to hear that someone hasn't taken time off in over a year because things at work have been too busy and they just haven't been able to find the time. It's also not uncommon to hear that Americans work more than many other countries or that people talk about the hours they work, sometimes with a hint of superiority and pride e.g., "Wow, I have been working 80-hour weeks lately. I'm just so busy!". And then there are those who fear taking time off, perhaps because they think they may not be seen as valuable once they're not in the office, or because their work culture doesn't encourage it.
Well, as someone who loves travel, writes about travel and thinks travel is genuinely great for your career, I strongly believe in taking a vacation. I encourage those who do have the ability to take a vacation to go and actually do so. Here's why:
It Improves Your Health
At the end of the day, our health — both physical and mental — is what matters most. When you go without breaks like a hamster in a wheel, you will burn out. I repeat: you. will. burn .out. Take a break. Practice self care. It works wonders.
It Improves Your Work Performance
Have you ever concentrated on something for so long that things begin turning to mush at some point? Or even if they don't turn to mush, you find yourself having to step away and take a break. A vacation forces you to take that break and then return to work with fresh perspective.
It Helps You Relax
Let's be real, the world is a nutty, at times scary, place right now. Turning on the news is bound to raise your blood pressure and there are times when we can feel tense even without us knowing it. At least that's the case with me. But when I'm on a vacation, I have the opportunity to disconnect for a bit and just relax.
It Helps You Explore Somewhere New
I don't necessarily think a vacation means you have to travel. There's always the staycation. But I do think if you have the opportunity to explore somewhere new, whether that's down the street or on the other side of the world, you should take it. Either way, it's the chance to break up your routine.
It's a Good Thing!
Sometimes I feel like vacation is seen as this bad thing that lazy people do, when nothing could be further from the truth. I'm not saying you take a vacation every month — don't get crazy — but know that vacation isn't a dirty word or this bad thing that will hurt your career. At least it shouldn't be!
These are just a few reasons to take that vacation you've been putting off. Not to sound preachy (okay, maybe just a little preachy) but our lives are not meant to revolve around work. And when you're hopefully in your old age, are you going to be reminiscing about all those powerpoint presentations you made or all those adventures you had?
What are your thoughts on taking a vacation?