Memorial Day unofficially kicks off the summer vacation season. But we Americans have a bit of a complex about taking time off. Even though the average productivity of working Americans increased 400% since 1950, we tend to forego our vacation time. According to an Expedia study, while most Americans have 14 days of vacation, four days went unused on average in 2013—twice as many as the year before.
If you are considering hunkering down in your cubicle in lieu of booking that trip to Costa Rica, consider this: taking a vacation is actually good for you.
Stop Working. Start Innovating
In 2001, researchers at Washington University identified regions of the brain that are active when people are not doing anything in particular. Called “the default mode network” or just “the default network,” these regions were found to be responsible for introspective thought.
According to Adam Waytz, an assistant professor of management and organizations at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, “When the brain is wandering or at rest, what it is likely up to be simulating different times and places and alternate realities, which is the type of thought you want people doing if they’re involved in creative or innovative tasks.”
Implication? Doing nothing can stimulate parts of your brain that are responsible for creativity and innovation. As a marketer, finding creative ways to solve problems is the lifeblood of your occupation. Recommendation? Plan for it. As I head out on vacation, I jot down a few problems I’ve been having at work and then leave them alone. I almost always find myself conjuring a new thought process that helps reframe the problem and identify new solutions.
Get healthy? Then Start Vacationing
In a study of 13,000 middle-aged men at risk for heart disease, those who did not take a holiday for five consecutive years were more than 30% more likely to suffer heart attacks than those who took at least one week off per year.
A study conducted among 1,500 women in rural Wisconsin found that those who take vacations at least twice a year were less likely to become tense, depressed, or tired than those who took vacations once every two years.
Punchline? All the money made from toiling away won’t help you if you’re tired, depressed, and on the verge of a coronary. Vacations help you renew and recharge, reducing health-harmful stress and anxiety.
The more you vacation, the more you love (and do better) at your job
Sometimes when you’re working 40 (or 50, or 60) hours per week next to someone who talks too much or takes his (smelly) shoes off at work or chews with his mouth open…it can irritate beyond what is rational.
Ellen Langer, professor of psychology at Harvard University, believes vacation is more mindful. Faced with different and exciting scenery, Professor Langer says we feel a renewed sense of engagement that we ought to try to take home with us. It could make all the difference once we’re back in the office.
In short, getting away can help put things in perspective. A smelly shoe or loud talker doesn’t seem as bad if you have spent a week watching a sunset, laying in a pool, or hiking up a mountain., a clinical psychologist in Los Angeles sums it up well “Most people have better life perspective and are more motivated to achieve their goals after a vacation.
So take this post, send it to your boss, and schedule your holiday. It’s good for you, good for your family, and even better for your organization.
And that is what we call a Win. Win. Win.
This article has been reprinted with permission from Anita Newton’s LinkedIn page.