When was your last vacation? What did you do? Where did you go? How did you feel when you got back?
I always had trouble requesting vacations at work. Somehow I thought that it would make me look like less of a team team player, or that I wasn’t as dedicated to the company as my boss thought I was. And I wouldn’t want that. So even though I was entitled to 2 weeks vacation a year, I still felt guilty – and worried about – asking for the time off.
Thankfully, every year, I would work up the nerve to submit the vacation request. Inevitably, I would come back from my trips rejuvenated, re-energized, and even full of new ideas not only on how to do my job more efficiently, but also with new ideas for the company in general.
Now that I mostly work for myself, I’m sad to report that it’s even harder for me to take a vacation. It seems that now that I am my own boss, I am a tyrant! I suck at taking breaks, and I know that if I go away, the work will pile up because no one is there to do it for me.
There’s nothing like a one year wedding anniversary with your spouse to squash all of those lame (though justified) excuses and get you the heck of dodge (ok, maybe Malibu isn’t dodge, but you get my drift).
Ted and I just got back from an epic trip to Sedona, Arizona. It was incredible. If you’ve never seen the red rocks, I highly suggest you take a trip to this magical place!
We spent 4 days hiking, running, taking too many photos, saying “wow” a lot, eating too much food, getting massages, reading, and all around trying to take some much needed time to relax and recharge (though, if you’ve ever been on a trip with Ted, you have to work to relax. I married Mr. Adventure Man, and when you take Mr. Adventure Man to the day hiking capital of the world, well, you’re just asking for trouble).
Did we relax the whole time? No. Did we get up at 6am every morning to get out for an early run? Of course. Did we stay away from e-mails and text messages? Mostly…not.
But this vacation – as does every vacation – successfully took us out of our everyday routine. No clients to see. No cooking to be done. No deadlines to meet. No rushing through the days and getting up to do it all over again the next day. Vacations (the relaxing kind) tend to put you on Island time, which, if you don’t know it, is very slow. And when time slows down, so do you. And, being outside of your regular routine, you are forced to try and see new things. Vacations create the space for you to really be present in ways that you may not be at home, where you are susceptible to all the distractions of your very busy life.
So if you haven’t taken a vacation in a while, I highly suggest you consider it. Whether it be a week, a month, or even just a weekend away, it will work wonders for you.
What kind of wonders, you ask?
Here are 5 to consider:
1. It will force you into the present moment.
I don’t know about you, but I have a really hard time staying present. For the most part, I’ve stopped seeing things through the eyes of a child. The awe of life, on an everyday basis, has been mostly replaced with routine. My eyes are more often on the ticking clock, the not-nearly-complete to-do list, and the anxiety inevitably building up inside. Though I do take the time to appreciate my surroundings, mostly, I forget to really take it in more than once a day.
Being on vacation forces discovery, particularly if you’re in a new place. It opens up your eyes to see that this place has always existed, in all of its beauty, as you have gone about your daily life however many miles away. And it will continue to exist once your vacation is over. In this discovery, you cannot help but to be thrust into the present moment, because, like a child tasting chocolate for the first time, you too are experiencing something for the first time. And apparently, there’s nothing like the first time.
2. It’s good for your health.
According to an article from the Huffington post last year not taking vacations can lead to chronic stress. And, as you know, when you’re stressed, you tax your body. Your immune system is compromised. Your digestion might be as well. You are more susceptible to catching a cold or getting an infection.
What’s more is that taking a vacation might even stave off a heart attack! According to another article in the Huffington Post,”in a study of 13,000 middle-aged men at risk for heart disease, those who skipped vacations for five consecutive years were found to be 30 percent more likely to suffer heart attacks than those who took at least one week off each year. Even missing one year’s vacation was associated with a higher risk of heart disease.”
And ladies, don’t think you’re safe from these statistics. In the same article, the author cites the Framingham Heart Study, that found that “women who took a vacation once every six years or less were almost eight times more likely to develop coronary heart disease or have a heart attack than those who took at least two vacations a year.”
3. It reduces stress and increases productivity.
There is no question: vacations can help to clear your mind. How can they not? Now that you are out of the everyday routine, your mind can roam free! It has a chance to catch up, to think about other things, and really, to take a break from all that analytical thinking your job might demand from you. Taking a vacation is like spring cleaning for your mind. Out with the junk, in with the newfound space! Without that excessive mind chatter weighing you down, productivity increases. Remember: work smart, not hard. When you’re stressed and your mind is overburdened, you might end up confusing busy work for productive work (not to mention doing things that you should be delegating, thus making you less productive).
4. It breaks up the monotony of your routine, allowing you to enjoy it more.
No one is saying there is anything wrong with your routine. In fact – it’s probably great! But just because you like it, doesn’t mean you don’t need a break from it. Too much of a good thing isn’t actually a good thing after all. By taking a vacation, you break up the monotony of your routine and break your patterns. When you get back from your vacation, maybe you’ll go back to the same routine, and maybe you won’t. But either way, it will feel different. You may appreciate your routine and your life more. And yet you may even decide to cut something out as a result of something you discovered while you were away.
5. It will give you a new perspective.
When you remove yourself from your surroundings and head into a new place, you cannot help but to adopt a new perspective. And oftentimes, this new found perspective might also carry over into your life, perhaps helping you to see a problem that’s been ailing you in a different light. I’m fairly certain Newton was on vacation when the apple fell on his head and he discovered gravity. It’s just speculation at this point, but I’m thinking it’s a pretty valid hypothesis.
There are countless reasons for you to clear your schedule, clear your mind, and book that vacation. Pick one that resonates with you and just go! Because life is now. You don’t get these moments back. And thankfully, you get to decide how to fill the moments that make up the beautiful tapestry of your life.
Your crazy friend,
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