nounoften attributive  va·ca·tion  \vā-ˈkā-shən, və-\  |  Popularity: Top 40% of words

Simple Definition of vacation

  • : a period of time that a person spends away from home, school, or business usually in order to relax or travel
  • : the number of days or hours per year for which an employer agrees to pay workers while they are not working
  • : a time when schools, colleges, and universities are closed

Source: Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary

“If you want to be successful, you have to vacation.” ~ Cyndi Wineinger

As Coaches, we are constantly helping people find work and life balance.  We understand the issue for high achieving executives is that balance is not always their goal. It needs to be!   All of us have been known to check email on vacation and we aren’t here to argue the merit of not doing so.  

The argument tends to be on actually taking a length of time away from the office and investing in the people you love and the goals you have outside of work.  If you want to check email, that is your call.  What we encourage and often put hand shake agreements on are for you to go away and do something different.  Here are some valid and well researched reasons to do so. 

  • Improved mental rest improves health
    • Downtime May Decrease Heart Disease
    • A host of studies have highlighted the potential cardiovascular-health benefits of taking a vacation, including:
      1. *The Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial for the Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease sponsored by the National Institutes of Health’s Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The trial followed 12,000 men over a nine-year period that had a high risk for coronary heart disease. The study found that any such men who take frequent annual vacations were 21 percent less likely to die from any cause and were 32 percent more likely to die from heart disease.
      2. *The landmark Framingham Heart Study – the largest and longest-running study of cardiovascular disease – revealed that men who didn’t take a vacation for several years were 30 percent more likely to have heart attacks compared to men who did not take time off. And women who took a vacation only once every six years or less were almost eight times more likely to develop coronary heart disease or have a heart attack compared to women who vacationed at least twice a year. 
  • Decreased depression
    • A study conducted by Marshfield Clinic of 1,500 women in rural Wisconsin determined that those who vacationed less often than once every two years were more likely to suffer from depression and increased stress than women who took vacations at least twice a year. Similarly, the University of Pittsburgh’s Mind Body Center surveyed some 1,400 individuals and found that leisure activities – including taking vacations – contributed to higher positive emotional levels and less depression. The benefits of vacationing also extended to lower blood pressure and smaller waistlines.*
  • Less stress
    •  A study released last year by the American Psychological Association concluded that vacations work to reduce stress by removing people from activities and environments that tend to be sources of stress. Similarly, a Canadian study of nearly 900 lawyers found that taking vacations helped alleviate job stress.*
  • New experiences bring new ideas
    • The professional services firm Ernst & Young conducted an internal study of its employees and found that, for each additional 10 hours of vacation employees took, their year-end performance ratings improved 8 percent, and frequent vacationers also were significantly less likely to leave the firm. Additionally, research by the Boston Consulting Group found that high-level professionals who were required to take time off were significantly more productive overall than those who spent more time working.*
  • Relationship building time with family and friends and can prevent Alzheimer’s
    • A number of studies indicate that maintaining strong social connections and keeping mentally active as we age might lower the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s. Experts are not certain about the reason for this association. It may be due to direct mechanisms through which social and mental stimulation strengthen connections between nerve cells in the brain.**
  • Accomplishing travel goals/bucket list items builds self esteem and may even help you earn more
    • According to a study done at Virginia Tech, 80% of Americans say they don’t have goals. And the people who regularly write down their goals earn nine times as much over their lifetime as people who don’t. By setting goals that are clear and actionable, you have a clear target of where you want to be. When you take action towards that goal, you’ll build more confidence and self-esteem in your abilities to follow through.***
  • Exploring non-work interests promotes brain health
    • Don’t dread returning to work after a vacation; it turns out that a few days away might put you behind on work but ahead of the game. The mental health benefits are endless – those who take vacations claim to have increased creativity and inspiration.
      A relaxing vacation will also decrease stress levels, improve emotional health and lend an enhanced perspective that you can apply to your work. A good vacation reaps physical benefits, including lowered blood pressure and reduced stress hormones.
      Returning to work well-rested and with a fresh mentality will help you take missed assignments in stride. The benefits of a vacation are long-lasting and will improve everything from your work to social life; so go ahead, request off and prepare your travel plans.****

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