If you’re in your 20s or 30s, you probably know how hard it can be to take a break. You may be working towards a promotion, so it can be tempting to avoid taking a week-long vacation, even when you feel like you need one.We have some good news for the vacation-starved souls out there. Vacations are empirically, objectively good for you. Increasing evidence suggests that postponing your vacation can actually be damaging to you and your career in the long run.
Why do people actually give up their vacation allowance? Fear of missing out plays a role here: you can guess the reasons; falling behind in work, missing out on important projects, or simply feeling guilty about leaving the office for more than a long weekend.
It’s basically career-FOMO that stops people from taking a break.
This poor soul needs to be on a boat in Croatia, stat. Image thanks Ernie Smith - Getty Images
The consequences of avoiding a vacation can be substantial. Working longer hours translates to higher levels of stress-related illnesses, diminished productivity and burnout.
So what’s the flip-side of this dark picture?
The flip-side is a win-win: by taking care of your own health and well-being through the right sort of vacation, your career (and you) will actually benefit. We’re going to have some stats to back this up, so you can take it to your boss. You’re welcome.
According to research by the US Travel Association, in 2018 the majority of managers surveyed agreed that vacation improves an employee's focus (78%) and alleviates burnout (81%).
The research also found that employees who reported their company encourages vacation (68%) are far happier with their jobs than those who work at places where either vacation is discouraged or managers are ambivalent about giving time off to their workers for vacation or about taking time off themselves (42%). Kinda self-evident.
When to know if you need a vacation (and how to ask)
Everyone should benefit from taking time off to relax and reflect. As a 27 year old who has worked in corporate communications, with long working hours and tight deadlines, my theory is pretty simple. If you do not feel as productive as you could be, and it’s been more than six months since your last break, you probably need a vacation.
How to approach the subject of taking vacation? Speak directly to your boss. Be frank (...like “I’d like to book some vacation time”), have a plan for who will be your backup, and think in terms of your boss’s self interest.
We love the fascinated-ginger-bearded-guy look. Guy Bottomley is this you? Image thanks Pressmaster. - Shutterstock
Mention how much more refreshed, creative and annoyingly positive you’ll be on return. There is truly no shame about such matters, especially when it comes to taking care of yourself in a way that ultimately benefits the business. Do it for yourself, your career and your boss.
BTW, according to Psychology Today, research suggests that we will actually work harder, perform better, and have better health, more stamina, and enthusiasm for our work, if we take time off.
4 reasons why vacations are good for you and your career:
1. Your stress levels will decrease
You are away from the office routine and can switch off from all the demands and the deadlines. The excitement of being in a different environment, outside your comfort zone, will boost your mood and help reduce stress quickly.
Pick out your favourite type of activities when planning your trip by focusing on your hobbies, whether it is art, cultural activities, site seeing, or sports like surfing, sailing or mountain climbing. The planning can be almost as important as the experience itself. Unwinding and learning new skills is almost a side benefit.
But in order to relax and benefit from your vacation, you have to make sure that you fully disconnect from work; emails and updates. Studies even prove that putting an out-of-office email notification psychologically helps to boost general happiness and reduces stress substantially
2. Your creativity will increase
The more we travel, the more we learn about ourselves and how the world works. Leisure and vacation also helps boost our creativity and imagination while being exposed to a new cultural environment.
For instance, studies have shown that hiking in nature, disconnected from all devices for four days, led to a 50 percent spike in creativity, simply by being exposed to new and different experiences, especially being outdoors and connecting with the earth.
The simple act of doing nothing can be very beneficial. Daydreaming and relaxing creates alpha waves in the brain that are key to creative ideas, long term decision-making, motivation and innovation. So if you do decide to come sailing, look out at the waves, chill, and know that it’s doing you good.
3. Your productivity will increase
Based on research, the act of disengaging from work when you are not at work makes us more resilient towards stress, more productive and altogether more engaged when we return to the office.
If you have been sailing and have your captain certification, when you return you do not need to travel far in order for it to be considered a vacation. Short weekend getaways, or even a day on the lake/bay on a yacht can provide that same resilience-boost and the positivity/productivity boost.
Spending quality time with your loved ones also plays a big role, whether it is your family or friends. Taking time out sailing with them will kill two birds with the one proverbial stone: stress reduction *plus* time spent with your loved ones.
4. Sailing will bring new skills to your work
A sport like sailing requires a set of practical skills that can be transferable to your work. These include things like teamwork, problem solving, dedication, leadership and simply how to tie a knot like a boss (it’s surprising when that comes in handy).
You will also learn a lot about yourself by using all your senses, your intuition and develop a positive mindset, which can improve your career and life in general. Basically, you need to sail. :)
Sailing Virgins runs week-long fast track sailing courses in the Virgin Islands, Croatia and Tahiti. We create captains. Check out sailingvirgins.com/courses for more information and to find a course that suits you.
References for this blog post shown below. Thanks to everyone here:
Clarisse Encontre is a freelance writer based in the BVI: https://clarisse-jn.com/