It’s no secret that the U.S. is the most overworked country in the world. A staggering percentage of us (85.8% of men and 66.5% of women) work more than 40 hours a week. Let’s face it: We’re run ragged and stressed out with coffee pulsing through our veins. We need about four more hours of sleep a night and three extra days in a week just to get it all done.
So why do we do this to ourselves and why don’t we just take a break?
We all have our excuses: I can’t possibly stop for a moment or I won’t finish my work. Breaks are for the weak. I don’t have the time or money to take a vacation. But the reality is, this mentality of needing to work ourselves to the bone is impacting our happiness and productivity at work. But even more importantly, it’s affecting our performance, stressing us out, and even leading to mental and physical health problems.
It’s time to say enough is enough. Don’t wait until you’re so burned out you can barely function to take a break. This can — and should — mean both taking small breaks during the work day and, yes, vacations.
Small Breaks Save Sanity
For the most part, we can all afford to take a few small breaks throughout the day. Not only will they help you recharge and de-stress, but they will increase your efficiency, job satisfaction, motivation, productivity, energy, and concentration — just to name a few. In addition, you could reduce headaches, eye strain, and back pain.
Here are a few things you can do on your breaks:
- Get away from all screens. Ditch the phone and give your eyes a rest.
- Get moving. Take a quick walk, stretch, or, hey — go for the run you’ve been thinking about for months.
- Do something you enjoy. Knit, read, do a crossword puzzle — anything that brings you joy!
- Connect. Chat about anything but work with coworkers or, if they’re available, give a friend or family member a call.
Want some more ideas? Here are 51 things you can do on your breaks.
Take a Darn Vacation
When was the last time you took a vacation? My guess is too long ago. About half of American workers don’t take vacations. Not taking much-needed, longer breaks can lead to a whole host of unwanted side effects, such as lower resistance to illness, lethargy, burnout, and, of course, unhappiness. It’s one bad dude, folks
If you can’t or don’t want to take a bunch of days off, consider a weekend getaway. Go to a nearby city you’ve never explored. Relax at a bed and breakfast. Head to the lake, beach, or mountains. You can even get away to a different place entirely — here are the 25 best cities to spend a weekend in.
But I strongly encourage you to take a real vacation. On a budget? Here are some last minute and cheap vacation ideas. Want to go somewhere far away? From Canada to China, here are some of the 27 best travel destinations of 2018.
So make yourself a pledge this year. Take more frequent breaks during the day and take a vacation — even if it’s just for a few days. I promise you won’t regret it.
And don’t forget your branded out of office message.