I adore vacations. I love everything about taking them. From the anticipation that comes with planning a trip, to the packing (don’t even get me started on my passion for adventure gear!), traveling and then experiencing new places and people. And even though sometimes it’s tough to come back to reality, I always have amazing memories and I return home feeling incredibly refreshed and alive.
So imagine my surprise when I learned that 42 percent of Americans didn’t take any vacation days in 2014. No vacation days! That’s almost half of all the stressed, overworked, anxious and busy people out there refusing to take a break and get away!
So why am I so flustered about my fellow citizens not getting away? Why do I have this irresistible urge to launch a national “Take Your Vacation” campaign? There are many, but here are my top reasons:
Even the act of planning and packing can build excitement and bring family and friends closer together – before you’ve even stepped on a plane or the gas pedal. For instance, I’m going on safari in September, and the challenge of finding the right gear and collecting amazing travel accessories has gotten my batteries charged up and ready to go. I’ve had to research do’s and don’ts, collect appropriate wardrobe and equipment. It’s been an adrenaline rush! Researching your destination, planning special events or simply anticipating reading a good book on your own back porch can help rejuvenate your body and bring you back to life.
I’ve seen first-hand what happens to individuals when they don’t give their brain (and body) a break … when they stay on overdrive and never stop to change gears and slow down. And it ain’t pretty. I’ve worked with clients that literally can’t think straight because they’ve been working nonstop for months on end, never coming up for air. They become all jumbled up in the head, with no sense of perspective. When you never step away and let yourself relax and find your center, nobody wins.
But don’t just take my word for it. This subject has been studied and researched by lots of really smart people, who say that the upsides of getting away are very real. Here are just some of the proven benefits of vacation:
- An annual vacation can cut a person’s risk of heart attack by 50 percent.
- Blood pressure, heart rate, and levels of epinephrine – a stress hormone – decline on holidays of only one or two days.
- Overwork costs employers about $150 billion a year in stress-related absences.
- Travelers rate their overall health one full point higher (on a scale of 1 to 5) while on vacation. They also get three times more deep sleep after their vacation, and sleep almost 20 minutes longer after their vacation.
- Even the anticipation of vacation travel generates an increase in positive feelings about one’s life as a whole, family, economic situation, and health.
- Life satisfaction also increases during vacation, and these effects continue after returning home.
Any kind of vacation counts.
Not everyone can afford fancy excursions abroad or five-star hotels, to be sure. But if you aren’t taking time off, even if it’s for a low-cost staycation in your living room, your body and mind can suffer. Be creative and just do something different. Microadventures, which can be described as brief getaways closer to home, are becoming more and more popular for individuals, families and even corporate teams. They can be anything from hiking in a regional state park for a weekend, or organizing a family sleepover under the stars in your own back yard. In fact, I’ve added corporate and team-building microadventures to the list of my services, as they are terrific ways to build unity and reboot groups and individuals without huge time commitments. My point is that you don’t have to break the bank to give yourself the gift of a getaway.
Go ahead. Snap out of it. Tell your boss you’re getting away, and take those vacation days. You deserve it.
Are you getting away?
Have you vacationed this year, and what benefits did you experience? If you haven’t taken any time off this year, why not? We’d love to hear your vacation stories. Leave your comments below.