Why taking a break is good for you

It should be an easy decision. You are being paid by your firm to take 4 or more weeks off every year. So why do so many people pass up on the chance to miss work and have fun? Vacation Time

More than a million workers won’t take their full entitlement of leave this year, with the average of unused holiday standing at five days. This equates to around £500 million of ‘free’ work for your employers.  Our American friends are even worse, and in fact, so bad that Silicon Valley has introduced the perk of the pre-cation where employees are paid to take some time off before starting a new job.

When we do take holiday, almost everyone checks work email these days and more than 25% will be contacted by colleagues or a Boss on a work-matter. A lot of you are fearful about being sacked or missing out on a promotion.

Well, taking holiday, or time off in between jobs, is good for your career, and essential for your health, and here is why:

  1. It improves your health and well-being. Time away from work is essential to relax, catch up on sleep and have fun. The experiences we have on vacation have very long-lasting effects, and seeing life from a different and more positive angle has an impact on our state of happiness.
  2. Down-time is good for your heart. We can go all the way back to the Framingham Heart Study (1948) to prove that vacation time can reduce the risk of heart disease. Men who don’t vacation for several years are 30% more likely to have heart attacks.
  3. Relationships are essential to life. No man is an island and work friendships are not for life. Don’t place undue importance on the value of your business relationships, and the concept of face time, at the expense of real-world relationships. Use your vacation time to reconnect with your true friends and family. Enjoy the things about them which make them special and laugh like a kid.
  4. Rest time makes you a stronger asset. You will have your best ideas whilst away from the office. Thorny problems disappear and fully rested employees come back firing on all cylinders. Taking your vacation makes you a better candidate for promotion, not worse.
  5. Relaxation builds resilience. Without relaxation time, the neural connections we have which produce feelings of calm and peacefulness become weaker, making it more difficult to unwind and rejuvenate. It is only when take a break from external stresses that our bodies can unwind enough to restore themselves.

If you work somewhere we you are fearful of taking time off, or your Boss doesn’t encourage it, it may be time to look for a new post. And don’t forget to take your pre-vacation.

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