Are you taking holiday time or are you planning on working through? Lots of Americans approach winter holidays with phone in hand. A series of conference calls that can't stop compete with a series of Slack IMs to show who's most connected. If you're in the die-hard, never-stop-working camp, consider what science (and math) say about the benefits of planning your vacation. You just might change your behavior to do more bumming around.
1. Stopping systemic stress.
Working can keep your body on "drive" and create systemic stress. Just hitting the pause button with a planned vacation allows your body to recover from the day-to-day work hustle. For example, the Framingham Heart Study, a longitudinal research project since 1948, draws conclusions with the weight of large populations and long time horizons. One of its strong findings is that people who take vacations are significantly less likely to have heart attacks. Let's replay that concept-- we're not talking about committing to interval training three times a week here. The finding is, relaxing for several days actually helps your core health.
2. Increasing your chances of getting a raise.
It's legit--there is a correlation between people who took more than 10 days of vacation getting a raise or bonus (65 percent) and people who took less than 10 days (only 34.6 percent). Is it because your coworkers miss you and your contributions? Or because people confident enough to take off are showing their leadership and planning skills? No way to tell--but you might as well work the program and take the (off) time.
3. Enjoying a stronger family life.
Jobs can come and jobs can go, but family is part of your forever. Turns out most folks feel this way, says a new Neilson study of over 2,000 adults with incomes over $35K. Sixty-one percent self-reported that vacations with their partners are important to maintaining a strong and healthy relationship. So much so, in fact that over two-thirds said their partner would rather receive a trip with them than stuff. It seems to work--for those who commit to at least one vacation per year, 86% report a strong family bond.
4. Keeping it real.
Research shows that taking insane, over-the-top vacations can actually sour some of the fun. But planning good, ole regular rest break vacations does the trick--resets mental focus without breaking the bank. One study of those who planned once-in-a-lifetime experiences found that, "having had such experiences spoiled their subsequent social interactions and ultimately left them feeling worse than they would have felt if they had had an ordinary experience instead." Interesting, huh?
5. Planning is part of the reward.
Science says smart vacationers plan ahead by at least a month--the stress around planning goes way down while anticipation goes up, maximizing your vacation ROI.
6. Keeping it short still counts.
Scientific studies also indicate that frequent, short breaks are super effective. You don't have to wrestle all 10 days away at once. If your vacation is very relaxing, the happiness effect lasts longer. The typical time for post-vacation glow to wear off? 8 weeks. Time for the next break!
7. It's your patriotic duty.
More than half of Americans (55%) left vacation days on the table. One expert pegged that at 658 million unused vacation days. If the average vacationer spends $100 a day, that is $65.8 billion added to the U.S. economy in sectors like hospitality, restaurants, airlines, and services. Let's make sure you get to do your part!