This is the first year ever that my family is going to be out of our home country during the holiday season. Although not everyone will travel to exotic (and warm!) locales during this traditional vacation-laden time of the year, but there are three reasons why everyone should consider taking a proper break during the holidays.
It sounds strange for me to defend the value of a vacation, but the statistics are pretty alarming: US workers simply don’t utilize their time off. I assume it is similar worldwide. Vacation hours, even the “use it or lose it variety,” go unused. And in the modern era of always-connected, device-toting knowledge workers, even days of PTO can be consumed with email, texts, and keeping tabs on projects.
1. Vacations are a release valve.
We recently say the hosts of Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters in a live show at a local theater. While explaining how they caused a household water heater to explode magnificently, Adam Savage made a poignant observation. “Water,” he explained, “boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Unless it’s under pressure. Then it gets stupid and forgets to boil.” It is this expansion effect that can lead to magnificent explosions as the air trapped inside the water heater compresses and then releases.
I think we humans are the same. Under pressure, we can get stupid. We can get harried and stressed. We can do our own form of expansion as the negative parts of our personality, like our impatience or intolerance, are amplified. We forget what we were designed and gifted to do. What otherwise we’d do without thinking about (like treating strangers or co-workers with a degree of kindness), we forget.
Vacations can be a bit of a release valve. After all, pressure only builds in a closed system (like that of a sealed water heater). If some air can escape, then the water can return to it’s normal operating state. That is the hope of a vacation. To make people less stupid.
2. Vacations provide perspective.
Sometimes getting away from something can provide you a whole new perspective and a new set of solutions to draw from. Marcel Proust has been quoted that “the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Many professionals in creative fields, find it useful to step away from their problems or work, to take a walk, work on something else, or even goof off a little, only to return to the work refreshed and ready to see the solution that might have been in front of them the whole time.
Although there is a temptation to get things “wrapped up” before leaving the office for the holiday, it might be wise to leave some tricky problems waiting for your return in January. You’ll return with new eyes and have a better chance of coming up with a better resolution than you might have under the pressure of deadlines in December.
3. Vacations allow us to appreciate normal
Despite the fun of the vacation and the excitement of news sights and sounds, there is always something nice about coming home again. Sleeping in your own bed. Being able to wash clothes and eat at home. The space to spread out after being cooped up in a hotel room or a car (a “little too much togetherness” at times). Sometimes getting away allows you to better appreciate “home,” even if you don’t travel far. The familiar routines take on new comforts. The places and people that you took for granted now seen through new eyes of gratitude.
So, whether you are fleeing the country for this season or staying close to home, I wish you a very merry and warm holiday! I will be seeing you and the world with new eyes this coming new year and I wish the same for you.
This article was published on LinkedIn.