Are You Taking Enough Breaks?

A recent study published by the World Health Organisation, revealed that in 2016 over 700,000 people suffered from heart attacks and strokes as a direct result of overworking. The main cause of this? Working long hours without taking periods of time off to rest and recharge. Globally, more than 35% of strokes were a direct result of working more than 55 hours a week (WHO, 2021).

The Problem

There are a number of reasons why people refuse to take time off work. One of the main reasons being that people are fearful that if they take holidays or even a few days off, they will fall behind at work. It has gotten so bad in some countries, such as America, it is referred to as ‘the State with no vacation’. Since 2015, Americans have reduced the number of holiday days they take, to less than 15 annually, a reduction of nearly 7 days since 2000.

Another reason that people fail to take enough holiday days off, is that they are anxious about job security. Even during periods of economic downturn such as 2008, failure to take time off has never been as bad as it is now.

A study conducted by the Harvard Business Review reveals that even in 2008, average holiday days were 20.6. More recently, the global Covid-19 pandemic saw people move out of the office to work from home. The transition, although welcomed by many, only exacerbated an already growing problem. Now, people could no longer leave work behind and the constant threat of the laptop saw people working more hours than ever before. I bet that you know someone like this. (I was one of them)

This, of course, was confounded by the fact that people were confined to their homes, so obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol have all increased globally.

The Solution

Plan ahead

It seems very obvious when you hear it but in actuality, failure to plan your trips and vacations will lead to stress, being overwhelmed and taking the good out of your vacation time. Planning your trip can include: making a list of all of the activities that you want to do while away that you may have missed out on while working; playing a round of golf or a set of tennis. Looking up the area you’re visiting and seeing what day trips you can do or nearby areas you can go and explore. Linking up with friends to see what you can all plan together in order to reconnect. All of these things will allow you to visualise yourself on holiday and take the guilt out of feeling like you will be missing out while at work. 

Working for free?

It is easy to forget that actually holiday days are paid days too. An interesting analogy to use when trying to justify or reduce guilt associated with taking holiday days may be that if you don’t take your holiday days, you are in fact working for free. Now ask yourself, would you actually do your job for free? We thought not!

Holidays increase mindfulness

Richard Davidson, a professor at the University of Wisconsin recently said that “When we travel we are usually breaking our normal routine, decreased familiarity is an opportunity for most people to be more fully present, to really wake up.” Other studies have found that breaks in day to day life can allow us to look at things with a fresh perspective and are associated with increased productivity levels and mindfulness.

Holidays reduce stress

Stress leads to increased levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Adrenaline in the short term, can be helpful for getting tasks done as it triggers a feeling of urgency. However, prolonged exposure to these hormones and a build up of cortisol is not advised for health or heart health. Stress can also lead to feelings of anxiety, loss of appetite and depression. Breaks away to stress free environments can help to reduce anxiety associated with high pressure environments.

Sleep, sleep and more sleep

Do you find that you are restless? Have so much on your mind after a busy day that you can’t settle? Well, research has shown that as little as three days of holidays can result in an hour extra of good quality sleep a night. Sleep not only is essential for being alert but also has huge impacts on your health. If you haven’t already, you can find it in our sleep blog post.

Hang out with Friends

The human species is a gregarious one, and there's nothing better than being with those who we love, our family and our friends. Hence why, for a start, if you find it hard to take big periods of holidays, just take a day off, and go spend some quality time with your friends, ideally outside to enjoy the wonders that mother nature has to offer, while you're on it, why not treat yourself with some tasty VITHIT? In the picture we have Mango Pineapple and Raspberry and Watermelon 

Conclusion

If Covid-19 has taught us anything, it is that life is short and that we must enjoy time spent with those we hold dear. Be sure to enjoy that time and use your holiday days. After all, what's the point in being successful if you can’t enjoy it too?

References:

https://hbr.org/2016/07/the-data-driven-case-for-vacation

https://www.forbes.com/sites/carolinecastrillon/2021/05/23/why-taking-vacation-time-could-save-your-life/?sh=6050d61f24de

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