Over the past decade of seeing patients, I’ve discovered that the people who are the happiest and most energized are those who skillfully balance time on and time off. But here in the U.S., even though many of us covet the idea of a relaxing vacation, we don’t tend to take time off from work. Will the boss say something? What will coworkers think? Does taking time off imply I’m a slacker? The answer is no.
A vacation will actually make you a better worker and a happier, healthier person—physically, mentally and spiritually. Here’s how:
Give yourself permission to take a break. Research shows that after a vacation, we are metabolically “awake” and everything seems to work better. Time off lowers stress, improves self-confidence and rejuvenates creativity, and it has been shown to improve our sex life, too! But you don’t have to travel to an exotic place; the same benefits can be achieved on a “staycation” at home. According to studies, unplugging from your normal work routine offers the same benefits as traveling farther away.
One of the most expensive liabilities in our workforce is the phenomenon called “presenteeism”: feeling obligated to work even if you’re completely burned out. Recent studies show that this phenomenon is costing U.S. companies $65 billion a year because workers are unfocused, uncreative and showing up merely to go through the motions. Taking time off to reignite your mindset is not only good for you, but it’s also a tremendous plus for the U.S. workforce and for productivity.
The more we find ourselves trying to keep up with the pace of life as a human doing versus a human being, we see our happiness and peace of mind erode. By taking time off, we demonstrate humility and self-acceptance and communicate to coworkers that it’s OK to step away from work for a while. You might even set a tone of “permission marketing,” showing the people around you that it’s OK for them to enjoy a vacation sometimes, too.
The cofounder of Optimum Wellness, Dr. James Rouse has a doctorate in naturopathic medicine. He is an inspirational speaker, personal coach, author and the cofounder of Skoop, a line of powdered superfoods.