Stress Less, Road Trip More
As I sit here and type out this blog, I am currently on vacation in Colorado in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. That’s right, I jumped on the road trip bandwagon and made the 13-hour road trip over to Pagosa Springs – home to some insanely hot natural springs and some beautiful mountain views. My goal was to stress less, and road trip a little more.
Vacation = Stress ?
This trip had been planned for over 6 months (originally to Florida but then later changed to Colorado, thanks COVID), and lucky for me I work at a company that values flexibility and encourages its employees to take time off. It’s amazing how refreshing and re-energizing one can feel after some time away, especially knowing their team can handle things while they are gone. I think that might be the biggest factor that pushed me to take a week off – being part of a team that I know will take care of things while I am out. That is typically the most stressful part about taking time off, and a big reason why most people don’t. It’s kind of sad that we live in a world that is stressful while you’re in it, but the second you think about escaping or taking a vacation, it adds even more stress.
Why is that? Do we thrive off of stress? Do we enjoy it? Are we just THAT used to stress that when we don’t have stress we feel….stressed?
I often think that people (guilty myself) view being busy as a good thing, something to work towards. I can remember back to high school and college and how it was “cool” to have a ton of stuff going on – like “Wow! This person is involved in so much and has so many different things going on! They are gonna do big things in life I’m sure!” We are molded at a young age to think busyness = success, and that only the weak need time off.
That’s just not true.
Vacation = Valuable Rest
Some of the most successful people find the easiest way to do things to save them time and resources. That’s why Warren Buffett gives some of his most complex problems to some of his ‘laziest’ employees. They will find the easiest way to do things.
I could list off a number of studies that show employees who take time off and actually use their vacation are happier and more productive when they are in the office. And it’s true. Have you noticed it or seen it in your workplace? Those that take the three-day weekend for a trip with the family come back Monday morning refreshed and ready to tackle the week ahead. The ones that take longer vacations multiply the benefits of taking time off including improved mental and physical well-being. That only comes when employees feel that they can take the time off and won’t be missed or won’t regret it when they come back.
Then, you throw in the crowd that “takes vacations” but still works through them. What’s more relaxing than laying on a beach and checking your work email? Laying on a beach and NOT checking your work email. They don’t really take a break or leave work at the office. Some of those people are either part of less than great teams that can’t handle things on their own, or they just don’t trust their team with their own responsibilities, projects or clients. If that’s the case, then they have bigger problems to figure out. Also, they should really take a look at the book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – but that’s a blog for another day.
The company culture and values have a big seat at this table as well. If you are part of a team that encourages that time off, that’s a team that is truly invested in you and your well-being. They also know the side effects of happy employees are good for business, so it’s a win/win.
Vacations Look Different Now
The way we live and work is changing by the day. I can check my email from the top of a mountain here in Colorado if I want to, but I know I don’t need to. I think finding balance is a two-way street. The employee has to know they can (and should) take time for themselves and their families, while the employer should cultivate an environment where time off is encouraged and made easy to get away as needed.
My best advice? Wherever you are – be all there. If you’re in the office in the middle of a huge project, be all there. If you’re chilling in the hot natural springs in Colorado, be all there. Life can, and will, go on so you might as well enjoy the ride.
All the best,