It’s easy to fall into the trap, especially if you’ve already started your career or you’re working hard to kick it off, of overwork. In the United States, work is sacrosanct, and in many fields, overwork is simply part of the experience. If you’re motivated to get ahead and find success, it takes putting in the time and building your skills while preparing yourself for your next opportunity. However, taking time off, especially in the summer, is also important for your career.
At Pickens Technical College, everyone from the administrators to the teachers to the counselors and staffers works together to give students opportunities. But they value their summer vacation times, too. Use their example and give yourself time to rest and reset your batteries when the sun comes out, and you’ll find yourself motivated to take that next step when school and/or work starts up again.
Vacation time has been studied by researchers to try and find a link between regular rest and productivity, job satisfaction, and other indicators of success. Time and time again, vacation has been found to boost productivity. Don’t worry, you aren’t going soft or getting lazy if you decide to take a week or two off every summer.
Let’s look at a few specific ways vacation time can help you be your best and advance your career:
Boost Your Creativity
Do you ever find yourself staring at a problem or task so arduous you simply can’t even start it, let alone perform your best work on it? It’s a symptom of burnout. In this context, I mean burnout not as a function of working 80 hours a week, but because your brain is fatigued. It could be because of lack of sleep, too much stress, too much repetitive work, or a number of other reasons. Spending time away from your desk, especially in nature (even if you’re only sunbathing), lets your brain rest. If you can manage to stay away from work for a week or more, your brain will be clear of its fatigue and you’ll find yourself completing arduous tasks more quickly and easily when you return.
I wanted to make stress relief its own section because it’s so important to realize what stress does to your body. When you’re stressed, your body releases hormones that constrict blood vessels, increasing risks and complications from hypertension and other circulation problems. And that’s just the beginning of harmful reactions prolonged stress causes in your body. Stress leads to cardiac arrest and other problems, and it can build up in your system and affect your health and productivity. Release stress by taking a vacation and spending time outside.
Create Habits and Examples of Self-Care
Perhaps the most important reason to give yourself a vacation is the habit that it instills in you and the example you’ll be setting for others. When you make time off not just a fun treat every once in a while, but a necessary part of keeping yourself in peak condition to perform your job functions, you’ll create a habit that will benefit you for your entire career. Think of taking a vacation as akin to working out, minus the sweat and physical pain. When you reach that point in your career where you’re leading others, taking a vacation will send them a message and provide them with an example of why vacationing is necessary and important, encouraging them to do the same. Pretty soon you’ll find yourself managing a team of happy, energetic workers.
Everyone is different. Some people manage stress and burnout better than others. Know yourself, know your body, and allow yourself the time to restore your powers and abilities with time off this summer.