As I pack for our annual beach trip, I think how wonderful it will feel to have sand between my toes and the warm sun on my back.
It was a long, cold winter in Hershey, and the ocean’s call in summer never ceases to reenergize me. Taking a vacation helps me rejuvenate my body and soul, recharging my mind and helping me regain balance in my life.
Vacations do not need to be the month-long excursion to the west coast of Africa or two weeks on Maui. They can be an overnight at your favorite campground or a weekend yoga retreat.
When Warren and I were raising our children, we took shorter trips that provided excitement and a respite without the planning and expense of a longer stay. Many of our excursions centered on cities, where we could tour a museum, eat at an urban restaurant, and end the day with our children’s highlight: swimming in the hotel pool.
The effects of vacations have been found to be beneficial for employees and the employers alike. Studies suggest that people who engage in more leisure activities report greater life satisfaction, fewer negative emotions, and higher work satisfaction with a lowered frequency of sick leave.
Writing in the New York Times, John de Graaf of Take Back Your Time, which promotes better work-life balance, notes that vacations in the United States (“no-vacation nation”) are among the shortest in the world and that 40 percent of us leave vacation days unused.
We don’t want to be thought of as slackers, especially if layoffs loom; we don’t want to face the work that piles up while we are away; or our employers don’t let us take the time, he wrote.
Yet one poll he cited found that 71 percent of workers who regularly take vacations are satisfied with their jobs, compared with only 41 percent satisfaction among those who don’t.
“It’s up to business leaders to see the value of vacations for their employers, give them time off and encourage them to take it,” he concluded.
For me, vacation is a time of doing, sun up to sun down. As my husband says, I try to fit 10 pounds of fun in a five-pound box. This is true; my motto is sun up to sun down.
Leading up to our recent trip to Hawaii, I had read that the Big Island should be explored by land, sea and air. Needless to say, by the end of our first week we realized we needed to slow the pace down and go back to the basics: read as many books as possible, stay at the beach as long as the sun is shining, and try one new thing a day.
Whatever form your vacation takes, July and August are the months to refuel. I promise that once you unpack, find the perfect spot for your chair, pour a cool drink, and open your heart and mind to the pleasures ahead, blessings will abound.
And memories from your vacation will give you strength when the cold winds blow again and on those days when going to work weighs heavily on your mind.