Have you ever heard the US being referred to as the "no-vacation nation?" It's a little phrase that was mentioned by the Center for Economic and Policy Research in their report that discusses the differences between the United State's vacation and holiday laws versus other country's policies. It's no shock that our working culture greatly differs from that of other countries. We live in a fast-paced society, running from one project to the next without slowing down. Often, it's the norm for many Americans to continue to check emails and take work calls while on vacation, when these actions are considered almost taboo in other countries. To other countries, time off is time off. We just simply can't help ourselves. We've practically been trained to be workaholics and dedicate much of our lives to our careers, even when we step away from the office.
"The United States is the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation," (Center for Economic Policy Research, No-Vacation Nation page 1). Furthermore, we're the only country (in this study) where employers are not required by law to give paid annual leave to employees. This may be surprising at a glance, but the truth is most of us have become so accustomed to the non-stop working world that we dive into our careers so deep that we forget to take a breather from time to time, even if it's offered or encouraged by the boss! Did you know that other countries actually require a minimum of vacation time that every employee must take? It's very enforced! Forced vacation seems strange to us, doesn't it? For example, the average amount of time people are required to take off in Australia, Finland, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and Italy is 4 weeks; that's just the minimum required! For more statistics, check out the CEPR report.
While our admirable passion for our careers coupled with our incredible work ethic should be recognized and appreciated, it's important we take a little break sometimes from the hustle of the American culture to maintain a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle. We may be stuck in the habit of go, go, go when we need to take time to relax, breathe, and unwind! Even if it's just for a few days, it's incredibly important to de-stress now and again to keep ourselves healthy and happy. You might be thinking, that sure sounds nice, but how is it possible to step away from the office mentally and physically? Here are a few tips to help you relax completely when it's finally time for your well earned vacation!
Turn off the mobile device....even if just for one day.
Decreasing screen time when away from the office can greatly decrease stress and anxiety, allowing you to spend more time relaxing. Plus, you won't feel the temptation to check your emails and get in on all the conversations happening at work!
Snooze away and don't feel bad about it.
Sleep is such an important step in reducing stress and anxiety. Take the time to catch those zzz's when you can; vacation is the perfect opportunity to sleep an hour or two longer than usual! You can practice improving your sleep patterns with natural alarm clocks and sound therapy systems.
Pick up a new hobby.
This is the time to discover new interests of yours and dive head first into them. Looking to give chess a try? Want to learn how to water ski? Now's your chance to dedicate time to a new hobby that could become a forever favorite activity!
Find your happy place.
Where's your ideal relaxation destination? Is it soaking up the sun poolside, playing volleyball at the beach, or perhaps curling up with a great book in a comfy hammock right in your backyard?
Spend time with loved ones.
You finally have some time off, why not make it count by spending some quality time with close friends and family? Work takes up lots of your time during the week, and many people probably only see the special people in their life at night when they come home after a long day. This is a perfect opportunity to really make some memories with those that you love and spend time catching up with them. Invite them over, have a bonfire, gather around the grill, or watch some movies and simply relax with them.
Get some sun.
There is an incredible amount of benefits that vitamin D provides, including reducing stress. While taking time off from the office, try to spend a half hour in the sunlight. Over time it might really make a difference!
Organize your time off.
Locate the place you'd like to spend your vacation beforehand. This could be on a beach, at a downtown pub, or in your home. If you're a planner, it's especially important to organize the time you have off so you're not running around during your precious free time looking for things to do or having too much to do. Plan it accordingly so that it fits how you'd like to spend your time. If you're more go with the flow, then push the stress of planning aside and stumble into the day's adventures as they come!