Author: Lily Martis Source: Monster
The end of the year is a busy time for everyone. What with all of the gift giving, holiday parties, and a million other things you have to get done before the year’s end, you might find yourself like most Americans and not take time off from work to actually enjoy this festive season with the people you love.
In their annual study, the U.S. Travel Association’s Project Time Off found that 54% of employees left unused vacation time on the table in 2016, collectively throwing away 662 million vacation days.
Don’t be a Grinch staying holed up in your cubicle for the remainder of the year. Here are a few reasons why it’s important to take time off from work and some tips on how to fully disconnect on your time off.
Vacations are good for your personal health
Ever notice how you feel so much better when you’re on vacation? The reason goes beyond those fancy drinks with tiny umbrellas in them. Science routinely provides evidence that vacations are great for your mental and physical health. (Check out the multiple studies cited by Project Time Off. Science for the win.)
A 2015 study by the American Psychological Association found that vacations make for great stress relievers. Even stress-related physical complaints like headaches and backaches can vanish for as much as five weeks after taking a vacation, according to a study from the University of Vienna. Multiple studies have also found that workers who take vacations are less at risk of heart disease.
Point is, if all you do is work, work, work, then you’ll burnout, and your body might end up paying the price. Taking a trip (or even just spending a day curled up with a good book) is a great way to prevent that from happening.
Not working will make you a better worker
Want to do better at work? Rather than put more time in, the secret might be to take more time off. An internal Ernst & Young study found that for each additional 10 hours of vacation time employees took, their year-end performance ratings improved by 8%. Tell that to your workaholic boss.
A change of scenery can also help change your perspective and boost your creativity and clarity. Monster career expert Vicki Salemi says a vacation—or even one day decompressing at home—can help you return to work refreshed and ready to give it your all.
Take off and stay off
Before you leave, Salemi says you need to remind your boss, colleagues, and clients of your planned absence, and brief whoever will be taking over your responsibilities while you’re away.
That’s the easy part. The hard part is actually sticking to that plan and not giving in to the temptation of checking emails or voicemails.
“When you indicated that you’re away and not checking messages, it looks weird if you start responding to messages,” Salemi says. “Especially if you’re a boss, you absolutely need to set an example to your team that when you’re OOO (out of office), you need to stay OOO.”
After you check in to your vacation spot, you need to check out of work. To do this, you may literally have to keep your phone out of sight in order for work to be out of mind.
Got a travel buddy? Salemi suggests using them as an accountability buddy—if you check in at the office, you owe them money. Think of it like a swear jar, but for work stuff.
Of course, a great idea or a work concern may suddenly rear its head. “Any time a work thought pops into my mind,” Salemi says, “I write it down in a notebook and safely park it there until my vacation is over.”