How have views on the importance of vacation changed over the years? In 1971, journalist Leonard S. Bernstein wrote an article in the New York Times about the vacation theory and how it can make you 25 percent more effective in your business. He said that the vacation theory should always start on a Friday because that is the last day in the office before people leave for vacation. He explains that the vacation theory demands that you keep a list of the vacation dates of everybody—absolutely everybody that relates to your business. How do you go about this? Bernstein wrote,
“You must do a lot of telephoning. You start by calling your major suppliers: remember, accentuate the “where,” for, according to the vacation theory, the answer you really want, the “when,” will pop right back at you. Then you ask what dates your client is going to be gone. In using this theory, you can’t just ask for the dates outright, that is too suspicious. After you chat a bit and learn more about their vacation you hang up and take note of the dates they will be gone.”
This version of the “vacation theory” was about pressuring clients to get the deal done the day before the client was leaving for vacation. It was about increasing your sales and revenue based on their travel schedule, specifically starting a negotiation the Friday before their vacation. However, that was before cell phones, email, and working vacation with 24×7 access to corporate networks.
Going Beyond the Deal
Although in 2022, the vacation theory to manipulate and pressure clients to get the deal done before they go on vacation is no longer relevant since many Americans take work on vacation. Data from the American Time Use survey revealed that 30% of full-time employees report working weekends and holidays. Even when people officially have time off, that doesn’t mean they stop working. According to Brain and Behavior Research, Americans work more than people in any other country and take less vacation, work longer days, and retire later in life. According to the American Institute of Stress:
- 40% of workers reported their job was very or extremely stressful
- 29% of workers felt quite a bit or extremely stressed at work
- 25% view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives
This lack of rest and recovery from not taking a vacation has damaging effects according to Mayo Clinic and can cause job burnout. The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) revealed how important employee vacation is not only to the individual and family, but also to the organization such as fewer sick days, less turnover, and lower healthcare costs. Vacations also work to reduce stress and can cut your risk for heart attack, improve productivity, and help with better sleep.
What Type Of Vacation Is The Best?
Psychologists and researchers have been studying what kind of vacation is best for relieving stress, recharging for work, and making the biggest impact on health and wellbeing. The conclusion: longer vacations aren’t necessarily better than shorter ones. Jessica De Bloom, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Tampere in Finland, also states the best approach is to take shorter, more frequent vacations. Dr. De Bloom’s research also revealed that health and wellbeing rapidly increase after the start of the holiday and seem to peak on the eighth vacation day. Basically, it takes some time to wind down after a stressful work period and acclimatize to vacation. She recommends if you are concerned about what vacation activities to do, merely engagement in passive and social activities is linked to positive changes in health and wellbeing. According to Dr. Bloom, many summer vacationers are relaxing and simply “doing nothing”, therefore, indicative of a successful vacation.
There are also other ways to increase the benefits of your vacation. Fitness Expert and life strategist, Andreas Marcellus counsels her clients on vacation theory by taking a break from the gym during vacation and eating what you want (reasonable proportions), and walking every day everywhere you can. She states that this active lifestyle can certainly become something anyone can do every day on vacation and continue at home.
Vacation Mindset Even When Vacation Is Over
During vacation, we often feel unburdened, we feel free and abundant, and if this can be injected into your every day, a radical change can happen! So how can one continue the vacation mindset of abundance when returning home and going back to work?
- Take a day to relax and recuperate before heading back to the office
- Share your vacation stories and pictures with colleagues, and listen to their stories too
- Ease your way back into work with a “No meeting Monday”
- Start with a half-day at work
- Relive the memories and look at your photos
- Go to work with a fresh perspective and sense of openness
- Take breaks throughout the day, and drink water (hydration)
- Be kind to yourself and remember that you deserve your vacation, this is part of your health and wellbeing.
The Bottom Line
Vacation is important. When you take time away from the stresses of work and daily life, it can improve your physical and mental health, as well as your motivation and creativity, relationships, job performance, and even your perspective. A vacation can help you feel rested, refreshed, resilient, and prepared to handle whatever comes when you return. It can also boost your happiness and your ability to make positive changes in your life which often ripple out from you and positively impact family, friends, and even coworkers and bosses.
Be the change you want to see.