Vacation is important, no doubt about it. Both the employee and the employer benefit from a relaxed, rested and creative team tackling their everyday tasks. But what is the perfect amount of vacation time that one should take and can a vacation ever be to long?
When days get longer and hotter, we automatically start thinking about our next vacation. Be it at the beach or in the mountains, vacation time is sacred for most employees. Could it be related to our memories of the long-gone vacations we took with our parents? Fact is that the average vacation time has steadily decreased over recent years. It hovers around the one-week-mark. We take advantage of weekends and bridging days for short trips, while our parents used to take up to two, maybe even three weeks off in a row during those magical days of summer.
Reasons for this are many. Daily work routines have changed and it gets more and more challenging to draw a clear divide between work and play. Mobile phones and notebooks ensure that we are connected to our jobs practically all the time and everywhere. Thusly, we face a great temptation to take one more look at our inbox or to set up just one more meeting for when we get back to work.
Psychologists and practicioners of occupational medicine caution us, however, that those behaviours are wrong. Vacation should be a time to disconnect from work and just enjoy time without being on the clock. When else is there a better time to give our partners and spouses, children, family and friends our undivided attention? And wasn't there that book, that we always meant to read, but never actually found the time to do that? Or that exciting hobby we always wanted to try? Vacation couldn't be long enough!
Wrong again! If we take to much time off, we'll get out of synch with our established daily rhythm. On the flipside, if the vacation is to short, we won't rest enough. Therefore, experts recommend taking vacations of seven to ten days. This duration ensures the optimal recovery effect, while a longer one doesn't increase it further. There should, however, be two or three such vacations per year. In the meantime, we can fight the fatigue by enjoying small breaks from the work routine, time spent with our family, hobby or friends.