While many people look forward to their vacations all year, there seems to be a downside to planning those dream getaways. From packing and multiple loads of laundry to returning to hundreds of emails and extra work at the office, taking that vacation can seem like more trouble than it’s worth.
A survey released last year, conducted by Environics Research Group and commissioned by TD Canada Trust, found that 43 per cent of Canadians do not take the vacation time they are entitled to, even though more than 90 per cent of us believe that vacations are important.
But the benefits of taking vacations go beyond feeling a little refreshed after a week at the beach. Here are some reasons to plan, and take, that vacation time you worked so hard to earn.
Yes, that’s right. Taking time off can actually mean you’ll get more work done, not less. The reason is that people simply work better when they are well-rested. A week, or longer, off of work will allow you to come back to the office refreshed and re-committed, which leads to you working harder and more efficiently. Some American companies, such as Hubspot, are growing rapidly even while they have instituted unlimited vacation time policies.
Improved Mental and Physical health
The Framingham Heart Study was one of the longest health studies ever done. It found that women who took vacations once every six years were eight times more likely to develop heart disease than those who took two vacations every year. And men who skipped vacations for several years were 30 percent more likely to have a heart attack.
Many people deal with stress on a day-to-day basis, and taking a vacation can break the cycle of that stress. Instead of rushing around every day, you can relax and do what interests you.
In fact, some of the benefits of a vacation start before you even leave, from the enjoyment you may get from planning it and anticipating it. Likewise, the stress relief can continue well after you return home, as you talk about your trip with friends and look at pictures. To prolong the benefits, try to ease into your daily routines and incorporate some of those behaviours in your day-to-day life, such as relaxing for a few minutes with your family or going to a favourite restaurant more often.
It’s hard to nurture your relationships with your spouse and children when you’re run off your feet every day, doing chores, paying bills and collapsing in front of the television to relax for an hour before bedtime. A vacation can take you away from those everyday mundane things and help you really focus on enjoying time with the people you love the most. Whether you take a fun family vacation or go on a romantic getaway for you and your spouse, you will come back feeling closer to your loved ones because of the time you spent together and the freedom you enjoyed while on vacation.
A vacation can give you a new perspective on your own life, one that can motivate you to make changes and improvements. If you travel to a country that has a lot of poverty, you may come back with a new appreciation for the conveniences in Canadian society and a goal to help people who are less fortunate. At the very least, you will meet and see people living in a different way than you do. You can bring those ideas home with you. But even if you don’t, your perspective will be different just because you learned something new!