Most of us were raised to believe that vacations are hedonistic guilty pleasure. Even employees, who see them as a built-in right, fear sometimes that the boss will replace them while they’re away having fun. Often we encounter the employee who seems to be working even on vacation, proud of their ‘work ethics’.
Well, a serious scientific study conducted by psychologists from the State University of NY and the University of Pittsburgh, PA, concluded that frequent vacations keep you alive and well and even far more productive.
Those who took more frequent vacations experienced decreased mortality from stress-induced diseases. In addition, the charge people got from leisure time increased their productivity by a measurable percentage. Using the words of John Morrey, Vice President and General Manager of Expedia.com – "A healthy work-life balance is critical, not only to give workers a chance to enjoy life outside the office, but also to recharge, making them more productive when they return to work."
The scientific research was done on 12,866 middle aged men, selected from a group close to half a million. The researchers picked men between the ages of 35 – 57 at the highest risk for coronary heart disease. During a 9 year study, the men were followed and the conclusion clearly indicated the connection between frequency and quality of vacations taken and the incidence of fatal or non fatal coronary episodes. For a detailed medical explanation of the trials go to http://people.umass.edu/econ340/vacations_health.pdf.
The findings also determined that the frequency of respites reduced risk of all causes of mortality. The research reporter writes: "There are a few possible mechanisms through which vacationing might have direct protective effects on health. First, vacationing is likely to reduce overall stress by removing ongoing stressors. Coronary heart disease is the most vulnerable to stress, causing fatal episodes of heart attack and stroke. Yet even cancer and other potentially fatal diseases benefit greatly from vacations, by providing a period when the anticipated stressors and threats are removed and the person experiences a period of ‘safety’.
Finally, annual or even more frequent vacations may provide an opportunity for anabolic physiological processes to have an opportunity for restorative effect. Physical activity and social contact with family and friends is highly restorative for reduction of stress initiated catabolic effects."
There is a perception in the USA and South Korea and, in fact, in most of the Far East, that getting away from work means we are lacking work ethics and are bad employees. There is a way to remedy that by getting individuals to claim their day and insist on making time for vacations, without any accompanying guilt.
If the vacation must be limited be sure to be entirely disconnected from work or any duties and obligations related to it. Leave cell phones, laptops or other devices at home to prevent you from succumbing to the temptation to check into work. Make your break a true break – stress-free, joy-filled and relaxing.
Try to get away from it all, and do it often. You’ll come back refreshed and renewed in spirit and body.