You’ve heard me say it before but I’ll be taking the opportunity of June to say it again – vacations are good for Thriving! Do you have your summer plans mapped out to include some downtime? Yes? Fantastic! No? What’s that about? None of us can or should keep moving year round without a break; ultimately this is a sure-fire method to ‘crispy critter’ status.

Taking time off, and by this I mean not checking your work e-mail or voicemail, you allow yourself time to recharge and refresh, returning to work to be more productive, energize and focused.

Not taking time has significant implications for our bodies. In an article published by Harvard Men’s Health Newsletter in February 2006 it was found that, “Long hours and high stress on the job pump out stress hormones, raise blood pressure, and increase the risk for atherosclerosis and other heart problems. To counteract these factors, men need to work balance and relaxation into their lives.” If this is happening in men’s bodies it surely is happening for women too! From the same article comes this news, “In one study, men who took the most vacations were 29% less likely to be diagnosed with heart disease and 17% less likely to die over the nine-year study period than those who did not take regular vacations.” Is that enough evidence for you to think about it more seriously?

A vacation can also allow you to broaden out your horizons allowing you to return to work with a refreshed and perhaps new point of view or vision for the task at hand. Family vacations allow everyone to have down time and build shared experiences with which you can form a collection of stories to draw on later in the year or life. Who doesn’t remember some family disaster, which years later, still has you all chuckling?

Treat yourself to longer vacations if possible. 3-4 days off is nice but to really relax and settle in its helpful if you have more time. I recall a clinic director I once worked with who returned after a 3 week vacation looking like an entirely different person! He said it took about a week to stop waking up each morning panicked that he was running late to get into the clinic and that his return to work felt good because he felt he had gotten to spend good, quality time with his family.

Seriously unplug. As the old saying goes, “bad news travels fast.” There is nothing all that important that can’t wait for you to return and seriously, if someone doesn’t understand your need for an unplugged break do you really want to work with them? If you’re working with a team constant check-ins communicate that you don’t trust them – is that the message you want to send? Want to carry your cell phone so that your neighbor can get a hold of you when your solar panels crash through your roof in the middle of a snowstorm (or hurricane in the case of a summer vacation)? Go for it but resist the urge to call the office.

Are you headed out for that vacation yet? I hope so! And yes, for the record, this summer I’m headed to Grand Teton National Park with plans for my fall vacation just now getting into focus. Where are you going? I’d love to hear about your grand adventure! Safe and happy travels!