Treat Yourself: Make the Most of Your PTO with a Stress-Free Vacation and Reap the Benefits
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Around 40 percent of Americans don’t plan on using all of their paid time off (PTO) this year. If you’re part of this crowd, you need to reconsider. No, your workload isn’t too much and you won’t be seen as replaceable. Yes, other people can handle your job too. You need a break. It can actually make you have better job performance and provide other health benefits as well. It’s time to treat yourself by taking a stress-free vacation.
The key to happiness may be a vacation. A study found that people who take time off of work are happier than those who don’t. The main reason seems to be excited anticipation for vacation. And the happiness doesn’t disappear when vacation ends; the increased levels of happiness last for two weeks after returning to work.
Taking a break from work helps you feel renewed, so you can come back to work even fiercer. A study found that the best performers practice in 90-minute intervals with breaks between sessions, thus showing that people need restoration to optimize their performances. In fact, performance reviews increase by eight percent for each 10 hours an employee takes for vacation.
A relaxed brain is able to focus on mundane but necessary tasks, such as memorizing new skills like mastering new software that your company is using. Taking a vacation can give your brain the relaxation it needs to grasp new concepts. Without a vacation, it’s difficult for your brain to focus outside of the immediate whirlwind that is your everyday routine.
In fact, allowing your brain to daydream boosts problem-solving skills, planning, and creativity. At work, you’re highly focused and overworking your brain, thus limiting its insightful capabilities. However, a relaxing vacation gives your brain a chance to daydream. Furthermore, new experiences can give you fresh ideas for work because multicultural experiences help promote creativity and spawn new ideas. However, this only occurs when you’re simply immersing yourself and enjoying the moment.
Of course, not all vacations are created equal, and not everyone will enjoy the same type of vacation. Being extremely remote isn’t necessarily the best option. Completely disconnecting yourself can lead to an overwhelming urge to connect, which can ruin the vacation. Consider what you like to do. Do you want to ski the snowy slopes, sit by the ocean, or explore a new city? Figuring out what you enjoy most in your free time will help you choose the best vacation.
A vacation full of planned activities may be key. If you always have something on the itinerary, you won’t worry about checking emails. You’ll be having such a good time that you’ll learn to let go. If you’ve already mastered the ability of letting go of work on vacation, you don’t necessarily need to plan out your days and can more spontaneous. “Those who are less anxious about their one chance to get away often feel less pressure to make their vacation perfect, and are therefore often more open to exploration and discovery,” says Forbes.
Vacation is a time to relax and take a break, but that can be hard to do if you’re worried about your house. Secure the outside and inside of your home before leaving so you can have peace of mind. Walk around your property to look for vulnerabilities, such as a loose fence panel or a broken roof shingle. Consider having the roof, plumbing, and HVAC system inspected. Cleaning your gutters is important regardless of the season.
Inside the home, do another walkthrough. Ensure all exterior doors and windows are closed and locked, including pet doors. Unplug all appliances and electronics that don’t need to run while you’re away, and don’t leave any food in your refrigerator and pantry that will go bad in your absence. Ensure all fire detectors have fresh batteries. Also, give your house a good cleaning before heading out.
A vacation is a way to achieve work-life balance, which is vital for the wellbeing of your mental health, personal relationships, and work enjoyment. Don’t just let your PTO go to waste. Stop thinking of vacations as a luxury, and start thinking of them as a necessity. Do yourself, your employer, and your career a favor – take your much-needed and much-deserved vacation.