More and more individuals are finding it difficult to manage the complexities of their lives. The pace of work has become faster and the amount of work generated in a day is extraordinary. We become fatigued and we operate at less than optimal levels. We often bring work home with us whether mentally or in fact. Studies show that fatigue and stress directly affect our physical resistance and mental capacities. Our energy is not infinite and like any other organism, it needs rest and renewal to remain healthy. Vacations and holidays are essential in recharging our wellness bank account. Yet the thought of being a way for a week or two causes both joyful anticipation and stress.
Holidays and Productivity
Anyone who has taken time off knows that a mental and physical break is an opportunity to enjoy another aspect of your life, whether it is time with family, a sport, travel or a bucket list adventure.
Time off to tend to other personal areas of our life contributes to our mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing allowing us to return with renewed energy and enthusiasm, and often a more expansive perspective on our work and life. This makes for greater productivity and engagement.
An internal study in 2006 conducted by the accounting firm Ernst & Young found that for each additional 10 hours of vacation their employees took, their year-end performance ratings from supervisors (on a scale of one to five) improved by 8 percent. Frequent vacationers were also significantly less likely to leave the firm. All positive reinforcement for taking vacations.
Renewing your mental resources provides clarity of thought, more access to creativity and the enthusiasm to collaborate on future projects. Managers lead better. Entrepreneurs create better. Employees re-engage with their work.
Holidays and Happiness
Researchers from the Netherlands set out to measure the effect that vacations have on overall happiness and how long it lasts. They studied happiness levels among 1,530 Dutch adults, 974 of who took a vacation during the 32-week study period.
The study, published in the The Journal of Applied Research in Quality of Life, showed that the largest boost in happiness comes from the simple act of planning a vacation. In the study, the effect of vacation anticipation boosted happiness for eight weeks for those who were planning a vacation compared to non-vacationers. For most people, happiness quickly dropped back to the same levels upon their return as if they had never had a vacation. The only vacationers who experienced an increase in happiness after the trip were those who reported feeling “very relaxed” on their vacation. Among them, the vacation happiness effect lasted for two weeks after the trip before returning to pre-vacation levels. The study also indicated that it might be beneficial to take several small trips a year instead of one vacation since happiness is increased in the planning and anticipation stages.