It’s interesting when paying attention to our surroundings, how often one hears others say we currently live in better times than our predecessors; I would agree, however, let’s not blind ourselves to one of our biggest shortcomings–our inability to relax. In our modern society we tend to live by the code “Work hard. Play hard”; personally I agree with such statement; specially when it relates to balancing our weekly work load. However, such saying is not the same as let’s say “Work hard. Take time off to just be and unplug.”

To “Unplug” requires us to make the conscious decision to “disconnect” from our work and quite literally take time away from our everyday surroundings and habits. That is exactly what I chose to do these past couple of weeks. Although I still took my laptop and phone with me, I barely used them in comparison to when I am not on holidays. I made quite a bit of progress; this was my first set of holidays in which I am yet to open my work emails. I can see they are piling up, however this is my time and I am taking it! I am consciously choosing to be “selfish” in order to give myself the love, care and relaxation I need in order to improve my mental and physical health; after all if I don’t take care of myself, how could I possibly be in good shape to take care of my family and to give the best of me to them and to my passion which is my work?

There are times when we all need to be “Selfish” in order to show ourselves love, after all if you don’t love and care for yourself how could you possibly love anyone else from a healthy place?

Vacations are as important to the body as sleep is. During our “time off” we tend to give room for activities outside our regular routine that generally do not require greater physical and mental endurance than when we are in “work mode”. We go on “rest mode” which helps us biologically (our immune system gets stronger) and mentally as our creativity levels tend to spike when we are well rested.

Not enjoying our holidays to the full is a habit we need to change; specially when we are aware of the benefits “unplugging” has on our body and on our intellect; as such we must learn to detach ourselves from all our responsibilities and from time to time learn to disconnect.

Studies have shown those who embrace their holidays have better mental resilience and can find more creative and productive solutions to difficult or stressful situations in comparison to those who choose not to “unplug” and who choose to remain in stuck in their routine, surrounded by stressful situations.

Holidays is one of the best antidotes against stress which makes them essential to maintaining good physical and mental health. The harmful effects of stress are well known; from migraines, insomnia and stomach pains to cardiovascular problems; stress can even alter the human genome.

Your vacation doesn’t have to be long. “Most people have better life perspective and are more motivated to achieve their goals after a vacation, even if it is a 24-hour complete time-out,” psychologist and stress expert Francine Lederer told ABC News”

Researcher Karen Mathews; from the University of Pittsburgh-USA; and her colleagues monitored approximately 12,000 men at high risk of coronary heart disease-ages 35 to 57-for nine years. They found that participants who did not take annual leave were 32% more likely to die of a heart attack. During a consecutive study, scientists at New York State University added to the results, stating that men who take holidays each year reduce their likelihood of dying from any cause by 20%, and their risk of death from heart disease by up to 30%.

Holidays could be even more beneficial for women. According to a 2005 study by the Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin, women who take vacations less than once every two years are more likely to suffer from depression. In addition, those who do not usually take time off frequently are about eight times more likely to develop coronary heart disease or suffer a heart attack.

Researchers point out that holidays should not necessarily be long and expensive; taking a few days off to appreciate nature and forget about daily tasks are enough to allow the brain to recharge energy and improve intellectual functioning leading to better job performance. In fact, the mood boosting effect of thinking about an upcoming trip has a more noticeable effect on your happiness than any post-vacation attitude shift. Taking time off can help you catch up on much needed rest and healing; it has been proven that after just 3 days of vacationing your body and mind can speed up your reaction time significantly.

Do you feel that you have no energy and that your body no longer responds the same at work, study or during your common weekend routine?

If you do, it is possible your body is screaming for rest. Your body knows better than anyone what it needs to re-energize and heal. It demands rest so it’s better equipped to process the information given each and every day through various situations. That is why days off are indispensable to promote a state of general well-being and good mental health. If there is no adequate mental health, one cannot say the health of an individual is in optimum shape; that is why workers are recommended to not only take holidays but “to enjoy” a well deserved vacation–that is what I chose to do these past couple of weeks and I can honestly say I already feel the overall benefits. I got to do things my soul was aching to do such as exploring new places, meeting new people, polar bear swim, hiking, fishing, meditating–in other words I got to simply let my spirit guide me and simply be!

There are people who will always say there is no time to take time off. They are usually call workaholics. Workaholics are usually people who are usually running away from deep rooted traumas or from confronting painful situations outside of their work space. More often than not, they are in denial and deserve as much compassion as one would show to someone who is openly battling depression. They also could benefit from gently guidance so as to help them step out of denial. Of course there are people who DO need to work very long hrs.–such is the case when one is trying to build a company, start a brand new career, job or when one has a large family to take care of. As mentioned before your holidays don’t need to be long but taking as little as 24hrs off your daily work routine and focusing that time on just you; and if you can handle it; on those you love, will provide you with much needed energy and motivation to keep going.

To summarize, let me give you a few good Reasons to take a vacation:

As you have already learned so far, taking vacations will allow you to have more energy and renew your creativity by…..

  1. Helping you forget about stress and reorganize your priorities: Holidays allow you to forget about the daily routine, everyday problems and motivate you to resume strength to organize life with satisfaction.
  2. Helps you not to get sick: As documented in scientific studies, holidays are so important that if a person chooses to avoid them, he or she tends to get sick more frequently throughout the year and suffers related consequences such as wear and tear on his or her natural abilities.
  3. Helps you recover and increase talent: There are great noticeable benefits when taking holidays, as after a period of rest people become more productive and yield almost 100 percent of their physical and intellectual capacity.
  4. You can live longer: People who take at least one vacation set a year, have 20% less risk of death. By contrast, people who don’t take vacations in more than 5 years have the highest number of deaths from heart problems.
  5. Helps improve your mental health: People who take vacations frequently are less prone to depression, tension and tiredness.
  6. Helps rejuvenate relationships: A good holiday helps revitalize personal, couple, family and work relationships, as there is a relief from the tension accumulated by multiple obligations at home, at the office or partner to partner tension.
  7. Helps you find inspiration: Being in a different environment like the one offered by the holidays, forces our brains to think differently, thus finding new sources of inspiration and creativity.
  8. Helps you become more productive: By booking an average of two weeks of vacation a year, you will strive to make the most of your time, thus being more efficient. In addition, you will get a good physical and mental rest and on return you can be more active and productive.
  9. Helps with family bonding: Vacations force us to take time to plan activities together with our loved ones. It helps create the space to re-practice listening, to dream again, to reduce at least a little pressure–it is essential time to help us pause, clarify ideas and then put them into practice.
  10. Helps to project yourself into the future: Free time allows room to dream and reflect on the “time limits” by which you wish to achieve certain goals; your time then becomes very different from when you are fulfilling the day to day necessities; in which one often ends up tire and is incapable to see beyond what is currently at hand.

In conclusion holidays are not only indispensable for mental, physical, family and social health but if you choose to embrace your “time off” it can be very satisfying, fulfilling, healthy, crazy and fun!:)