Four Reasons Your Brain Wants You to Book a Vacation

August 11, 2016
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If you’ve ever driven a vehicle to your vacation destination, at some point, you had to refill its tank.  Likewise, if you don’t refuel, you will come to a complete stop.  The same can be said for your brain—if you don’t take a vacation, eventually you will deplete your brain’s reserve pool of power.  Dale Carnegie’s third principle for How to Stop Worrying and Start Living is, ‘Remind yourself of the exorbitant price you can pay for worry in terms of your health.’ 

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Here are four reasons your brain wants you to book a vacation before the end of the year.

Your brain requires time off to help you reboot your concentration and satisfaction.  77% of HR professionals believe that employees who use most or all of their vacation time are actually more productive on average than those who don’t. Moreover, in a 2006 Ernst and Young study, researchers found that every ten hours of time off resulted in an 8% increase in performance reviews for the following year.   

Dale Carnegie’s first principle for Cultivating a Mental Attitude that will Bring You Peace and Happiness is, ‘Fill your mind with thoughts of peace, courage, health and hope.’  It’s impossible to fill our brains with hope and peace when constantly working.  We must literally unplug from our professional roles to allow our brains to recharge because our mental reserve pool of power is finite.

Use or lose your vacation time—and your mind!  According to the U.S. Travel Association, workers typically fail to take even five vacation days a year.  In another study, 57% of workers had unused vacation time at the end of the year.  Another Dale Carnegie principle is, ‘Try to profit from your losses.’  If you’re guilty of leaving vacation days on the table in previous years, set a goal to use most of them by the end of this year.  Plan a vacation even if it’s a ‘staycation,’ so you can return to work rejuvenated and refreshed. 

Brain performance improves when it is not tackling tasks because it can focus on connecting current ideas with previously acquired knowledge.  Whether your role is in sales, customer service or even focused on serving internal customers within an organization, the ability to problem solve is critical.  Taking a break enables our brains to disconnect from the day-to-day to reconnect current and prior knowledge.  This enables our brains to consider both the macro and micro perspective of challenges, thereby making it easier to problem solve.

New skills are more easily acquired when your brain is completely relaxed.  In 2009, experiments conducted by the Harvard Medical School proved that a relaxed brain consolidates power making it easier to memorize new skills learned the week before.  A relaxed brain is also better able to stimulate creativity and help generate new ideas. 

The next time you worry about whether or not you can afford to take a vacation, ask yourself if your brain can avoid not to take one.

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