Pursue What Matters
Episode 63: Why You Must Take a Vacation From Work
Please excuse any typos, transcripts are generated by an automated service
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
Summer, have you gone on your summer holiday yet? Maybe you’re not going anywhere due to COVID. But I’m telling you now, you must take a vacation from work.
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:12
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Welcome to the pursue what matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. Today, I’m talking about getting away from work and boy do we need to get away from it all, work and home have merged like, no other time in our lives and we need a break from work. We need a break from home, we need to break from our screens. We need a break from all of it. Man, it is time. So of course it’s time to get away and yet that may feel really unsafe, and it might feel financially unfeasible. unfeasible? Is that a word? I think it is. But I’m not sure. Anyway, you know what I mean? So today, I’m going to make the case for why you can’t afford not to take a vacation from work. But let’s be totally flexible about what that looks like for you and your family, given your unique considerations and circumstances. But here’s the message, you need a vacation from work. So no excuses. And then of course, every week, my goal is to help you develop and strengthen your confidence to lead. And I do that in one of three areas. And this week, the focus is primarily on helping you lead with curiosity. And when we think about leading with curiosity, that is all focused on helping you strengthen your self awareness, and helping you build a secure foundation of self awareness and self leadership. So it’s really focused on helping you take good care of yourself, so that you can show up for others. And so you can lead with confidence. And a huge part of that is self care, rest and recovery. And hay vacation is all about that. So let’s jump in and talk a little bit first about r&r. So, of course, r&r comes to us from the military. Right. So Originally, it was a term, you know, it was rest and recuperation. You know, it’s kind of come to be known as rest and relaxation, rest and recreation. So there’s been a few different terms for r&r. But basically, that’s a term that has been used for free time of a soldier or other military personnel. serving in unaccompanied read that no family duty stations. So the you know, the US military. So US Armed Forces and British Armed Forces use that term. And basically, it is when military personnel need to get away. So sometimes it’s to visit family, sometimes it’s just, you know, to go to city and get a break from, from military responsibilities. And it’s, it’s a good term that we can use to when we think about getting a break from work. And today, I want to talk about a few more hours than just the art of the military. So research shows that Americans work more than anyone else in the industrialized world. Like that’s not a surprise. We’ve known that one for a while. They also take less vacation and work longer days and retire later. Like what’s up America? Why? Why are we so punishing to ourselves? It’s kind of ridiculous. I don’t like it. And number of studies have shown that taking time away from the job can have physical and psychological health benefits. So people who take vacations have lower stress, less risk of heart disease, a better outlook on life, hello, of course, and more motivation to achieve goals. So I’ve got a whole list of benefits that I want to talk about. We’ll just talk about these quickly. And then we’ll jump into some of the Ares some of the great reasons that you need to take a vacation. So first of all, what are the benefits of taking time away from work? So first of all,
Dr. Melissa Smith 4:57
improved physical health. So stress is A big contributor to of course, heart disease and high blood pressure and for both men and women, according to the New York Times taking a vacation, at least every two years, but I mean, definitely won’t want you doing it more than that will lessen the risk of coronary heart disease or heart attacks. I mean, that’s pretty big, that’s a good reason to plan a vacation. And then, of course, also improved mental health. So neuroscientists have found that brain structure is altered by chronic exposure to the stress hormone cortisol, which can be a major contributing factor to anxiety and depression. So feelings of calm arise from time away from work, and that that, of course relieves stress, which allows the body and the mind to heal in ways that it couldn’t, if it were still under pressure. And have you noticed that I mean, like when, when I go on vacation, what I notice is it takes me about two days to settle into vacation mode for my brain and my body to kind of settle in, and then it’s good that I’m all good. But it does take me about two, two days to actually slow down. And I think that’s just kind of that process of like the cortisol levels coming down, and my body slowing down. The third benefit that I want to talk about is greater well being. So according to a Gallup study, people who always make time for regular trips had. So this is a 68 score on the Gallup Healthways well being index in comparison to a 51 score for less frequent travelers. So One study found that three days after vacation, subjects, physical complaints, quality of sleep and mood had improved, as compared to before vacation. So these gains were still present five weeks later, especially in those who had more personal time and overall satisfaction during their vacation. So I think what’s important to pay attention to with this study is that the benefits of vacation are lasting. So it’s not that you just have the benefits during your vacation, because of course, right like vacation is awesome, and it feels great while you’re on vacation. But the effects were lasting even after the vacation as far as greater well being. And of course, we know the benefits in terms of mental health, and physical health are lasting beyond the vacation, as as I just explained with some of those findings. Another finding, and this is good, especially if you need to justify your vacation is that vacations can help you increase your mental power. So upon returning from vacation, workers are often more focused and
Unknown Speaker 7:51
Dr. Melissa Smith 7:52
So studies have found that chronic stress can actually modulate a part of the brain that inhibits goal directed activity, and can cause problems with memory. So time off, can tune up a well functioning brain. And I don’t know if you’ve noticed that, but I certainly have, I actually just got back from a vacation not too long ago. And I just feel refreshed, I feel like I have more focus, and more energy for the work. So vacation kind of acts like a little bit of a mental reset. And then another benefit is improved family relationships. So spending time enjoying life with loved ones can help keep relationships strong. So One study found that women who took vacations were more satisfied with their marriages so men, men, partners Listen
Unknown Speaker 8:43
up. That’s good.
Dr. Melissa Smith 8:44
Women who took vacations were more satisfied. Decreased burnout is another benefit. So workers who take regular time to relax, are less likely likely to experience burnout, making them more creative and productive than their overworked under rested. counterparts. That is a no brainer for sure. You got to have a break from work to help prevent burnout. And then the last benefit that I want to talk about there are others. But the last one that I want to talk about here is and this is awesome. This is before you ever even leave town, trip planning alone helps boost happiness. So Reacher research shows that the biggest boost in happiness comes from planning the vacation. So a person can feel the effects up to eight weeks before the trip. So if you’re planning a big trip, you will start to reap the benefits of the vacation before you even go on the trip, which I think is so cool because of this anticipatory effect. And so that’s that’s pretty awesome. So let’s just think about a vacation right now, given circumstances with pandemic So flying might might be out, it might make you seriously nervous that now might be a really good time for a road trip. Gas prices are pretty low, at least in the United States. And many national parks are open. I just returned from Yellowstone. And it was awesome. And a lot of people were wearing masks. So if that makes you a little bit nervous, most of the national parks have some really good, some really good protocols in place for social distancing. And for masks. And at least my own experience at a national park recently was that people were quite respectful of that. And this is the bonus, there was hardly anyone there. I mean, it was really quiet for early summer in Yellowstone. So bonus that was awesome. So it might be a great time to do a road trip or to explore places that are closer to home. And another option that you might look into is a staycation Can you reap the benefits of a staycation. And you totally could. So I want to just offer you a few ideas about a staycation that so maybe you decide it’s not wise or safe or a good idea for whatever reason for you to travel, which is totally cool, right like To each their own. Let’s respect that. And so maybe you decide to do a staycation. And maybe it’s also financially everyone’s been challenged by the current situation. And so I still stand by what I said that you need a vacation from work. And so a staycation might be a really good option for you to look at. So I just want to throw out some staycation ideas. And I have some resources here that I will link to in the show notes. So you can follow up in more detail if you if you want to. But here are some ideas. So first one, which is kind of my favorite, because I’m just a zealot about this anyway, but take a nap. So right do something that maybe you don’t always do in your everyday life. So I kind of laugh about this one because like I take a nap every single day. So that wouldn’t be really much of a staycation for me. But if you don’t normally take a nap, my first question is you should or why don’t you you should totally should. But take a nap. Another staycation idea would be have a spa day, make your own home feel like a retreat. So do something different in your own home. To make it more relaxing, you could also take a mini road trip. So you could infuse a little bit of adventure into that time. So of course, like I just said, gas prices, at least in the us right now are pretty low. And so is there a place that you’ve been wanting to see, that’s maybe just an hour or two away, you could do a day trip, you could explore some new sites you could check out you could check out some some local state parks, you could, you know, take to the open road like there are so many options available that don’t have to cost much
Dr. Melissa Smith 13:34
money and that you could do in a day. You could read a good book. So one of my guy friends and my my favorite things to do in the summer, and we’ve been doing this for a couple of years. And we’ll do it. I mean, we’ll definitely do it on the weekends, but we do it midweek as well. So I’ll try and sometimes get home in the early afternoon if I can. I need to be better about that. But we’ll we’ll ride up into the canyon because we are very close. We are so close to the mountains here in Utah. And we will string up a couple of hammocks up in the canyon and we will read
Dr. Melissa Smith 14:22
for a couple of hours I will read. I’ll usually take a nap. He will usually take a nap and read and it’s just lovely. And talk about making an afternoon a random you know, Thursday afternoon. A little bit of a vacation. We’re out in nature is beautiful. It’s nice and cool up in the canyon. More hanging out together. We’re resting and it’s lovely. So that could be really great. You could get outside of course you could read your hammock outside. Take a hike, enjoy a peaceful walk, could pack a lunch for a trip and take a picnic with your family, or go on a run, get outside do something that you don’t usually get to do. Another thing that we like to do is paddleboard or kayak and so, you know, getting out and enjoying the enjoying what’s available in your own community can be really fun. You can also explore your city, of course, you know, pay attention to what’s open and available, that are there historic sites or tourist spots that you’ve never been to. So so often we get really busy with our everyday life that we don’t actually explore our own our own city. So maybe there are some museums, or bookstores or coffee shops that are open. And that could be fun. You could camp out in the backyard. So another thing that we really like to do in the summer, is you know, we have a trampoline. And so we’d love to go out and watch the stars at night lane on the trampoline and watch the stars on a nice clear night. And you could also check out where you know our their local firework shows. And go check out fireworks shows that can be fun, or doing a night hike. That’s something we like to do as well. You could bring the waterpark to you. So you know do a slip and slide you could run through the hose, get an inflatable pool for your kiddos, if you’ve got young kids or older kids, a water balloon fight. That’s something we did with our kids all the time. Go to the local pool. Our neighbor was over at our house last night and she was talking about how they go to the the pool every day. She said almost every single day. And we were just sharing memories about how we did that with our kiddos when they were younger that how we had a pass and we just spent every afternoon at the pool and how great that was and and that’s how they’re spending their summer and how fun that is for her family. You could also have a movie night so you definitely don’t have to leave your house. You could stream one or the other thing Have you seen there’s a resurgence of drive in movie theaters. I know our local movie theater has put up a drive in movie theater with the pandemic. And how cool is that that would be fun. Growing up, we always had drive in movies, and we went to drive in movies all the time. But I haven’t been to a drive in movie in a long time. And that can be really fun. So you pop some popcorn, you can take some drinks and take some snacks. And that would be a really fun night. You could also stay somewhere new. So maybe, maybe you do a little bit of a weekend away. So you do an Airbnb or you do a local hotel, a lot of a lot of places have locals, local specials, especially right now because of the pandemic because not a lot of people are traveling. That’s something that I’ve been looking into because we’ve got a group of high school girlfriends, and we’re talking about doing a girls weekend. And you know, I’m not too far from Park City. And all of the resorts in Park City have a local special. And so it’s a really good time to get a very good rate on on some great resorts. So whether that’s you know, for us Sundance or Deer Valley, or Park City, that sort of thing. So you can find some really good deals. If you want to get away for a little bit locally. You could also take up a do it yourself project. Now, this would not be a vacation for me. So I would never do this because I do not like this sort of thing. But this could be a really good project for you. So we went to dinner with some really wonderful friends of ours, they used to be neighbors of ours. And during the COVID pandemic, they redid their bathroom, and they were showing us pictures of it. And wow, they did an amazing job, that that was something that they did. And they were stuck at home. And so they got to work on that. And it was an awesome project for them that
Dr. Melissa Smith 19:38
they really enjoy. And the other thing you could do is you could do a game night. And that could be really fun. You could do puzzles, you could watch a theater production. I just read that. Hamilton is coming out on Disney plus I’m excited about that because I’ve never seen it I’m like maybe like the one person left who hasn’t seen the life production? And so I’m at least looking forward to seeing that on Disney. Plus, you could go out for a special meal or have it delivered. go canoeing or paddleboarding. I mentioned that. And of course, you could have a date, right? You totally have a date night. Okay,
Unknown Speaker 20:21
Dr. Melissa Smith 20:23
let’s think about answering the question of why you must take a vacation from work because right like, that’s kind of what I’m being kind of pushy about this, you must take a vacation from work. So why I’ve got four, four answers to that question. And there are four R’s. So the first, the first R is you need to relax, you need to slow down your pace, we move so quickly at work. And this is good, right? Like it makes us productive, we get a lot done. But it’s also really hard to do all the time, it’s hard to work that way all the time. And vacation allows us to relax into a slower pace. The second R is renew. Vacation allows you to renew yourself, the best time away gives you an opportunity to renew your perspective on life and work, it’s really easy to lose perspective of your purpose, when all you do is work, you just have your eyes down. And it’s hard to see the big picture. So if you’re not careful, you become a victim of your schedule, your to do list and your next meeting. So taking time away to renew allows you to reflect and renew your commitment to purpose. And it allows you to also resist that pole of burnout. So the third R is rest. Hopefully you plan a vacation that includes plenty of rest. So not a vacation that requires a vacation after the vacation. I’ve had those. I’ve had those vacations, and they’re awesome, but they’re not relaxing. So the type of vacation that doesn’t require an alarm clock in the morning, the type of vacation when your body is allowed to wake to natural rhythms and respond in kind. So the kind of vacation where you’re less structured, where there’s more flexibility with time with food with rest with all of it. So like I mentioned, I just recently went on vacation. And we intentionally kept it very structured. And before we went, my husband asked me, okay, so what’s the plan, and I said, the plan is nothing like I want to read, and I want to rest and I’d like to paddleboard and he said, okay, but what’s the plan? And I said, No, like, that’s the plan. Like, literally, that’s my only plan, I want to read, I want to rest, I want to relax. And I would love to paddleboard if the weather is good. And you know what, that’s pretty much what I did. And it was really, really wonderful. And so giving yourself permission to rest. And I will just say I’ve had to give myself permission to really keep my vacations on structured. Because if you know i’m i’m very driven, and I’m very structured and my days in my in my life are full, they’re super full. They’re very structured, very scheduled. And so the risk is the danger is that I do the same thing to my vacations. And so when I used to go on vacations, I kind of feel guilty if I didn’t have things scheduled, which is the most ridiculous thing in the world. And I finally realized that and so now I’m really, you know, I’ve really moved to this middle ground of like, no, like, I cannot, I cannot do that. And really being intentional about having vacations, be less structured, and get really giving myself permission to have downtime and really letting, letting my needs for rest and recovery, guide my actions on vacation and of course, you know, communicating with those I’m traveling with about those needs because you kind of have to be on the same page with those you’re traveling with. Because otherwise that can you know, if you’re not in alignment on that, that can be pretty challenging.
Dr. Melissa Smith 24:44
Okay, and then the last, the fourth art is reconnect. So vacations are wonderful for reconnecting with those you love. over long dinners over slow walks over challenging hikes and crackling campfires. So time can sometimes seem to slow down enough for you to reconnect with those you love the most. And so make sure that you are allowing that time to reconnect. That’s one of my favorite parts of a vacation is just, you know, I’ve talked before about enjoying time in the car with my whole family where we’re just laughing and telling, you know, silly stories on our way to a destination or, you know, walking with my girlfriend and our pup up in the mountains while we’re, you know, at the family cabin, or, you know, paddleboarding in the morning, with with my girlfriend, you know, those are some of my favorite moments. Those are some of my most peaceful moments, and so, reconnection with those we love is one of the most valuable reasons we go on vacation. So those are the four R’s to answer the question of why you must take a vacation from work. So to relax, to renew, to rest, and to reconnect. So make sure you head on over to my website to check out the show notes with all the great resources for this episode at www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-63 one more time, that’s www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-63. And I really hope you go on a vacation, whether it’s a road trip, whether it’s a staycation, and you know, I’m totally social. I’m on Instagram @drmelissasmith. So I would love to hear about your vacation. I would love to hear what you do. So please, please, please, please let me know about what you’re doing this summer, to relax and to renew and to reconnect and to have fun and get a break from work. So I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai