The brain expends more energy than any other organ, so it’s easy to see why we get so burned out when we work too much. In fact, according to the U.S. Travel Association, “Americans left an average of 3.2 paid time off days unused in 2013, totaling 429 million unused days for U.S. workers.” That is an awful lot!
I’m sure there are several reasons for this huge amount of unused time. Maybe in part, it’s self-imposed. Maybe we feel guilty for leaving. Or, the pressure is coming from our employers as if taking earned time off is a sign of weakness.
Whatever the reason, I think we could all stand to unplug for a while.
The Value of Relaxation
If the human brain is a muscle, and we never let it rest, how will it rebuild itself? Rest is just as important as work. We need both in order to function properly.
The trouble is, leaving work is the hardest part…and so, we rarely leave. I’m here to tell you, vacations are totally necessary. When we force ourselves to put our work away and get out of town for a little while, we receive some great benefits.
In his article "Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime," Ferris Jabr writes, "Downtime replenishes the brain's stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance and simply form stable memories in everyday life. A wandering mind unsticks us in time so that we can learn from the past and plan for the future."
Employers would do well to understand and implement the value of vacations. Imagine if you did not feel guilty about taking time off. Imagine if taking time off was actually encouraged. Imagine what it would be like to return to work after an absence, feeling refreshed and inspired to get back at it. Wouldn’t this benefit your company rather than harm it?
You’ve Earned It!
Taking your vacation is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign that you know yourself well enough to know when you need a break—and taking a break is not a bad thing.
Don’t worry; your work will be waiting for you upon your return, and you will be far more ready for it than you realize. And, we will be here when you need us, as well!