I just returned from a week-long hiatus from work, spending time out in the mountains with my husband. We had a small window of free time in-between graduate school semesters, so we made the trek out to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park for a change of scenery and change of pace. We hiked, made s’mores by the fire, and sat on the shores of many lakes. As I prepare to come back to daily routine and responsibilities, I feel refreshed and ready for Monday morning.
Taking Time Off Is A Wonderful Gift
You get to have more time with friends and family
When you work a full-time job, it feels like there’s never enough time to see who you want to see. Sometimes even if you are physically present with a loved one or close friend, the exhaustion from the work day makes it hard to focus on what’s happening right in front of you. I like my vacation to be an extended time to spend with the people I care most about. It’s time to invest in them, and to show them how much I care for them. Quality time is one of the ways I show my love, and vacation time is a perfect way to do that. On vacation, you not only have full days to dedicate to family and friends, but often several days in a row.
It’s a time to rest and recharge your battery
The daily routine can wear you down, whether you realize it or not. It’s easy to just go through the motions, one day after another, and everything quickly becomes mundane. I have a hard time breaking out of my daily grind, but taking time off forces me to interrupt my repetitive regimen. I don’t set an alarm; I try not to have a set agenda (although I am a Type A person, so that’s why I say *try*); I do things that fill my soul. For me, a restful, soul-filling vacation involves a lot of time outdoors, a good book (or two), and plenty of sleep. This vacation to the Tetons and Yellowstone was particularly timely, coming right after a 6-month training cycle for several bike races. I definitely needed rest and recharge time!
I’ve heard coworkers come back from their vacation and say that they need a “vacation from their vacation,” meaning they tried to do too much or were stressed more than usual on vacation. When you plan your next vacation, I encourage you to either not plan a demanding schedule or intentionally set aside time that is unscheduled. I think our society praises busy people who do many things just a bit too much. When it comes to time off, we feel pressured to do more and see more to have more stories at the end of the day. But. rest is also an important part of life. It’s usually a much needed thing.
It’s a reminder that life is bigger than work
There’s nothing like getting out of your house, out of your neighborhood, and out of your schedule to jolt your perspective. I live in close proximity to work, so it can feel like my world consists of a 1-mile radius. I can feel like I’m constantly available to my coworkers, via email or phone, whenever they need me or have a question related to work. But on vacation, all those deadlines, emails, and texts quiet down. The bustle of daily life slows and the once-all-important needs of work are muted. It’s such a gift to be in that unreachable place, if only for a temporary moment. As I traveled on my most recent trip, the miles of Wyoming prairie, the peaks of the Tetons, and the spewing geysers of Yellowstone helped remind me of the vast world beyond my small, daily routine.
New experiences can lead to growth
On vacation, you are in a new place with unfamiliarity surrounding you. Sometimes you are forced into situations that you’ve never encountered, and you have to problem solve in order to move on. My husband and I planned to camp the entire week on our trip, but the weather changed dramatically on Wednesday, so we were scrambling to find a hotel in order to avoid pouring rain and freezing temperatures. At the time, it wasn’t a fun position to be in, but we persevered and worked together to find lodging. I grew from this experience, learning that there are things out of our control (e.g. weather), and all I can do is make the most of it.
It can be pure enjoyment
Life should include enjoyment. I hope that your work gives you some enjoyment, but even if you are fully satisfied with your career, time away from work offers you the option to explore other things that you love. Humans are not machines, and it’s not realistic to expect that work can fulfill every need that a person has. We have things that we love to do but never can quite find the time to do them, so use vacation to do what you love and experience the joy of life just a bit more.
I wholeheartedly believe that paid-time off is a gift that every working individual needs. If we work from age 22 (college graduation) to age 65 (retirement), we need breaks in-between our work for all the reasons listed above. The stress of working in healthcare only heightens the need to take time to fill the soul with rest and enjoyment. While the work that nurses do is incredible and extremely necessary, the toll of the job can make it all the more important to take vacations sprinkled throughout the year.