Whenever people say they have so much vacation saved up that they HAVE to take time off, my response is always the same: how—followed by seven question marks. How have you gone this long without a vacation?
Obviously, I’ve never had this problem. I’m all for delayed gratification (big fan of the marshmallow experiment) but as soon as I have a vacation, I’m using it. And you should, too. Just ask science.
Scientists know vacation is more than a chance to bring fresh content to that carefully curated Instagram feed. Science has proven over and over again that leaving work for a bit is good for your health. Just take a look at this study and this article, too. Here’s a short list of the benefits of vacation (to copy and paste into an email to your boss right now).
Vacations make you more creative.
We already know how important it is to get out of the office and out of your own head when being creative. But, vacations! Those are great little mind breaks with the added benefit of experiencing something new. It’s much more difficult to figure out a problem if you’re in the middle of it, overwhelmed and caught up in all the why-not. When you take a vacation, you can temporarily detach from a problem and come back to it refreshed, rested and maybe even with a nice vacation glow. Challenging your perspective is critical to being creative.
Time off makes you happier.
A 2010 study measured happiness levels among 1,530 Dutch adults, 974 of whom took a vacation during the 32-week study period. The study discovered a higher degree of pre-trip happiness for vacationers. Just like the idea that wanting things is better than actually having them, this research claims that simply planning and anticipating your vacation can make you happier. However, only a very relaxed holiday trip boosts happiness after going back to the office. Beach vacation, it is!
Laying on a beach makes you a better employee.
In 2007, BusinessWeek reported that vacation deprivation increases mistakes and resentment at co-workers. Anyone who has ever waited too long to take a vacation will tell you: duh. You’ll be better at your job if you take a little time off. Plus, you appreciate it more when you get back. This Atlantic article summed it up with a quote from Francine Lederer, a clinical psychologist in Los Angeles: “Most people have better life perspective and are more motivated to achieve their goals after a vacation, even if it is a 24-hour time-out.”
A little sun is good for you.
Sorry if I’m the first person to tell you, but if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you’re probably missing out on a little something called sunlight. In Duluth, we get an average of 179 sunny or partly sunny days. Out of 365. Just let that sink in for a minute—unlike the sunshine you’re missing out on November through April. Instead, let your mind and your carry-on wander to Phoenix, AZ or Las Vegas, NV, which both benefit from sunny days for at least 85% of the year. I don’t think I have to remind you how important Vitamin D is. (Just don’t forget the sunscreen.)
I’m not saying you should run out of the office right now if you’re in that group of 56% of Americans who didn’t take a vacation last year. But I wouldn’t blame you if you did. It doesn’t have to be a huge trip! Just pick a weekend, a method of travel and a destination. Head up the shore with your family or sneak away to anywhere south of your current location. I hear it’s beautiful this time of year.