Plan Your Vacation this Year!

Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.

What do Instagram, Starbucks, Dropbox, and Hamilton( the musical) all have in common?  They were conceived/inspired by people on vacation. A step back, relaxation, a change in routine and the freedom to think is the healthy soil to allow for inspired “ah-ha” moments.

January 31 is National Plan Your Vacation Day so we are asking departments/units to schedule time in a January staff meeting where everyone on the team takes out a calendar together and plans their time off for the year.

In a study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) for Project: Time Off, talent managers and human resource (HR) professionals overwhelmingly agree that fully utilizing vacation leave drives higher employee performance and productivity, boosts organizational morale, contributes to employee wellness and results in higher employee retention.”

Silence appears to be interpreted negatively by workers with 65% of Americans saying they hear nothing, negative, or mixed messages about vacation leading to more than half (55%) who are not using their earned time off. 80% report that they would be more likely to use more of their paid time off if their bosses encouraged them to do so. So--here is the push you need to start this good workplace habit!

The Benefits of Travel

Physical Health:

An annual holiday can cut the risk of heart attack in men by 30% and in women by 50%. Women who don’t take vacations are twice as likely to be depressed as those who do.

Mental Health:

Pre-travel planning increases happiness and anticipation joy can increase for up to 8-weeks before a trip.

Restoration of your mental and emotional reserves can re-fuel you—a kind-of mind re-set button.  Neuroscience indicates that we require down time in order for our bodies and minds to go through the process of restoration, only when we are safe from external stresses that our bodies can relax enough to activate restoration.  

Not only does travel provide an immediate effect, it essentially helps train our minds and bodies to relax in the future. The neural connections that produce feelings of calm and peacefulness become stronger, teaching our bodies to shift into less-stressed modes.

Travelling encourages engagement and the feeling of being mindfully involved in your own life.  These experiences and feelings boost morale, provide a sense of mastery and can enhance your creativity and productivity.

Increased Productivity and Creativity:

The human brain thrives on novelty. Routines tend to result in boredom, which hinders creativity and mindfulness, and is counterproductive. Detaching yourself from your familiar environment can help you get a new perspective and boosts creative problem solving. This positive effect is heightened when traveling abroad. Immersing yourself in a different culture encourages a new way of looking at things and demands mental flexibility to function in an unfamiliar place with a different set of social norms and customs.

Surveys show almost three-quarters of people who vacation regularly feel energized and more ready to tackle the tasks at hand. 

Studies that look at employee performance ratings by supervisors support this assessment in that, generally, the more vacation hours employees take, the higher their performance rating scores.  

Tips to Optimize the Benefits of Vacation and Travel

Go to nature. Being in nature boosts your immune function. Those who hang out with trees and plants have lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rates, higher concentrations of disease fighting white blood cells and lower blood pressure. Scientists think this has something to do with the phytoncides that are emitted by plants.

Remaining plugged-in significantly diminishes the benefits of vacation. Find a co-worker to entrust with “the emergency contact”—a text contact perhaps, (so you don’t have to go on email) so you know that crazy is not breaking loose in your absence, everything else can wait or should be dealt with by others.

Plan your vacation well in advance--you will be more likely to save money, actually take the trip, and relish the joy of planning and anticipation. Additionally you can plan around busy times, plan for delegation of responsibilities, and share your vacation dreams with your co-workers.

Useful Links to Articles and Infographics:

How to Take More Vacation Time in 2017  New York Times, Jan 17, 2017

How to Master the OUT OF OFFICE message  Project Time-Off

Vacation in America 2017 Infographic  (good to post before that January meeting)

Tips for Employees: Don't be a Work Martyr Factsheet Project Time-Off

Study Finds Vacation has Similar Biological Impacts as Meditation  Project Time-Off

Millennial Women Aren't Taking the Vacations They've Earned  The Washington Post, May 25, 2017

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”                                                                                                          – Mark Twain