How stressed are you at work? There’s no doubt that in businesses everywhere people are being asked to do more and more with less and less. One of the results of this is we and our staff feel pressured to perform and we spend a lot of time working.
Is it truly necessary for us to work so much and so hard? It’s not to say we shouldn’t work hard when we’re at the office, but are we using our vacation time? Most companies offer a few weeks of vacation to their employees, yet many consistently don’t use that time. In fact, a study by the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows that Americans lose over 570 million vacation days every year because they simply don’t use them. Compared to other countries, employees here just can’t relax and take some time off! Most say they just don’t have the time – they’re ‘too busy’ to get away.
With the technology at our fingertips today, the ‘too busy’ excuse doesn’t hold true. Technology allows us to get out of the office and away from that stress, yet we can still keep tabs and stay on top of anything critical that may come up. For example, when I travel I take my iPad and it allows me to check my work email from time to time so I don’t have a gazillion messages waiting for me when I return.
A few years ago I decided to try and use as much of my vacation time as possible. I have quite a bit, as I’ve been with my company for a long time. I try to combine an occasional 3- or 4-day weekend as well as consecutive strings of 7 to 10 days for a ‘real’ vacation. My family likes casual travel, so it’s usually a trip into the Blue Ridge Mountains, or a trip up the coast visiting small towns and museums.
Taking time off is necessary to decompress. Studies have shown that people who regularly take vacation time are more productive employees. It results in fresh ideas and better innovation because getting away from the stress of work allows the mind to relax. Morale is better because people just feel better about their job when they’re able to decompress from the daily grind at the office.
Using vacation time doesn’t mean you have to take a trip, though. I’ve taken a week off and spent the time at home, reading and writing, doing errands and working around the house or in the garden. The goal is to get away from the stress at work.
So take a minute, schedule some time off, and relax! You’ll be a better person for doing it.