More than one in three of us are forfeiting our vacation time. Instead of taking time to renew, most of us are working harder than ever, an average 49 hours a week. We are putting in 100-200 more hours per year than our parents. We sleep less than our parents did; one to two hours less. Those are averages; you might be working more and sleeping less than that.
Two million years of lost vacation time
We talk about vacations, plan them, dream about them and then fail to take one. As much as a half billion vacation days will go unused this year. Surveys reveal that we don’t take vacations because we fear an adversary will get ahead of us, or that work will pile up while we’re gone. If we do take a vacation, we take work with us. A survey found that 92% of those away on vacation frequently check in with the office. That’s really not a vacation.
The Reward for Taking Vacation Time
A proper vacation can repair and expand higher order brain function that a stressful year has debilitated and even damaged. The reward for the time you invest in a vacation is a brain humming with the creative intelligence, emotional balance, and physical energy that sustains you at the top of your game. When you return from vacation, neurologically you will be ahead of the person you worried would get ahead of you.
Here’s How to Take Your Vacation
Think of your vacation as an intensive care unit for your brain, where no one from the outside is allowed to enter your personal space who might stress you. That means that before you leave for your trip, put your email account on auto-responder.
When you arrive at your destination, put your Blackberry in a drawer. If you have to use it, be disciplined about letting non-urgent business calls go to voice mail.
Here’s a simple approach to making your vacation rejuvenate your brain.
(1) Start your day in quiet in a place where you won’t be disturbed and follow the process below:
- Close your eyes or take a downward gaze.
- Tilt your head toward your heart. Follow your breathing. Imagine each breath softening your heart and opening it wider.
- Take a few minutes to frame the day in a positive light.
- Feel appreciation for the gift of another day of life.
- Feel appreciation for another day to be with the ones you love.
- Set the intention to have a relaxing, happy day.
- Make your goal to succeed at love, peace and joy.
(2) During the day,
- Practice being present, right here, right now.
- Practice letting go of worries and judgments.
- Commit to tuning into your loved ones. Rediscover them all over again.
- Hold the intention to listen better, judge less, and forgive more. In fact, practice judging nothing that happens while on vacation, from traffic jams to unpleasant people.