Written by Debra Alper
We all know the type: the student who’s up all night, reading and rewriting till the paper’s just right. Or the employee who’s in on the weekend when everyone else has long since gone home. Call it “type A” or just an incorrigible work ethic, there are those workers who simply seem unable to slow down. But sometimes, too much of that can-do attitude can leave you in a place of “I can’t, any longer!” Because in fact, research shows that even the most seemingly tireless among us do in fact need a break sometimes.
Whether we’re meeting tight deadlines, making important decisions, or just staying focused on life’s day to day tasks, stress has a way of creeping into all of our lives in one way or another. Over time, even mundane stressors build up and can take on something of a cumulative effect if left unchecked. In fact, chronic stress has been shown to negatively impact one’s memory and concentration, and is associated with greater irritability, depression, and anxiety. Physically, we are more likely to get sick or have an accident when we are under prolonged stress, as our bodies fare worse at fighting off infection and avoiding injury.
Perhaps then, it should come as little surprise that psychologists and researchers have long touted the benefits of vacation. Whether big or small, taking a vacation can break the cycle of stress we often find ourselves in. Even if one does not travel far, putting some mental and functional distance between you and your familiar environment can help breed new perspectives on your everyday life. In other words, taking a few steps back from your normal routine can allow you to view your life in a whole new light.
Consider the experience of asking a friend for advice about a predicament you find yourself in. Oftentimes, another person who is not intimately involved with a situation is able to identify more creative approaches than you would have seen. That’s because the while you are mired in the minutia and details of your own circumstances, your friend benefits from a psychological distance that allows him to see things in a fresh way.
Taking a break from your everyday routine can provide you with that same distance. Taking time off from work and ideally, creating some physical distance between you and your day to day chores can be a powerful way to shift your perspective and breathe new life into your work upon your return.
So no more guilt about taking that much deserved week (or even long weekend) away. Just do it!
After all, your work, and your health, might depend on it!