Are we so worried about keeping our jobs that we’re refusing to leave our desks? Are we so busy picking up the slack for our downsized coworkers that we don’t dare think about a trip to the beach/lake/Hogwarts School? Maybe so, but vacations make us better people—and better employees. Here’s how to look at it:
We’re slackers when it comes to time off.
Almost half of all American workers didn’t take all their vacation days last year. A full 89 percent of the French took their time off—and they get more than a month of it.
A more stressful workplace makes vacations more important than ever. “The research is clear that failing to take a vacation creates higher levels of stress and greater levels of disengagement at work,” Douglas J. Matthews, of Manpower/Right Management, tells forbes.com.
We’ve forgotten what a vacation feels like. That week off takes some getting used to. “Keep vacationing, and it will feel right,” says Psychology Today blogger (and psychologist) Ian Newby-Clark. Though it may be “excruciating” the first few days, he adds, you’ll stop checking e-mail and start feeling untethered soon enough. Forgoing a vacation doesn’t make you more important. “Take your vacation, and let them miss you,” advises vault.com’s Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio on forbes.com.
You’ll be a better problem solver. That’s what Jonah Lehrer explains on wired.com. One experiment—“Lessons from a Faraway Land: The Effect of Spatial Distance on Creative Cognition,” done at Indiana University—found that students tackled problems better after they were told the conflicts originated in Greece or California, instead of in Indiana. “Our surroundings constrain our creativity,” concludes Lehrer. “It’s not until we’re napping by the pool with a piña colada in hand—when work seems a million miles away—that we suddenly find the answer we’ve needed all along.”