Have you taken a vacation lately? Or even just a few days off to stay home? If not, you should! Research has shown that taking time off from work increases productivity, job satisfaction, and it actually helps the economy. In addition, vacations significantly help decrease burnout and make you and your employees more likely to put in longer hours during critical times – think tax season, a weekend sports tournament, or many back to back catering engagements.
As I sit here analyzing all of the research about why time off is so important, I am feeling a bit challenged. You see, I am leaving for my honeymoon in 3 days and I feel anything but chilled out and ready to leave. I have been running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to pack, clean the house, and get ahead at work. The more I read the research and think about this vacation, the more I realize what an idiot I am for “trying to get ahead”. The work is always going to be there, no matter how far I get today or in the 3 days before we leave. And now I am finding that taking a vacation will more than likely make me more productive on the days leading up to our departure, as well as after we return!
I talk to so many people that say “I am so busy at work, this just isn’t a good time to take days off”. I remind them, is it ever really a good time? Normally, your work schedule does not magically open up, so that you can take a vacay. Which is why you need to schedule breaks ahead of time and stick to them, for your health, sanity, and future productivity.
Just like athletes need recovery days so that their bodies can adapt to stress, replenish energy stores, and repair damaged tissues, normal working people need time off for the same reasons! Vacations are a great way to de-stress, replenish energy that is lost from lack of sleep and 70 hour work weeks, and repair damaged mindsets and/or work relationships. Studies have shown that it is imperative to your professional well being to do more on vacation than just sit on the beach with umbrella cocktails. It is in your best interest to have as much fun and relaxation as you possibly can; however, you should also implement a few strategies to improve your work relationship when you return. These are the 3 things I am going to implement and work on (besides a tan) during my upcoming trip:
1) Reflect on the past several months and think about how to shake things up – I read in one research review that if you do not return from vacation with some ideas on how to shake things up at work, then it may be time to make some changes. My goal is to reflect on what has and has not been providing results, and to really take time to think about some strategies that will change things up to help me and my clients be more successful.
2) Let go of grudges or past negative interactions – as a dietitian, like most, I can be very perfectionist and sensitive; however, it is very hard to please every single client and person that we work with. Taking the time to reflect and let go of past negative situations will help in being able to learn from them, forgive, and move on. This will lead to a more positive work environment and attitude on return to work.
3) Learn something new – my husband and I have been learning Spanish, because we are traveling to South America. It has been so fun to learn a new language and I am excited to practice on vacation! We will also be taking surfing lessons and will need to learn very quickly how to live and sleep on a fishing boat for 3 days. Being able to learn something new and take something away from your vacation will give you new interests and keep you uplifted for months after!
If it has been a while since your last vacation, I highly encourage you to sit down and plan something out. Especially, if you are feeling burned out and exhausted, it is time to take some much needed rest and recovery days. Even if you participate in a stay-cation, turn your work phone and e-mail off, enjoy some free reading time, and lunch at some of your favorite restaurants. I understand how important your work and professional life is; but, you are only as good as your next meltdown :)
Allison Tropf, MS, RD, CSSD
Allison is a Sports Dietitian in Michigan. She enjoys helping others reach their nutrition and fitness goals through reliable and trustworthy recommendations.
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