Posted on Jun 3rd, 2006

These days, it seems like rest and relaxation are guilty pleasures, things to be ashamed of. We live in a world that tells us we must always stay busy, we must always stay focused on our work. There’s no time to get sick. There’s no time for vacation. We have to go, go, go! But is this healthy for us?

Think about these numbers. The average company in America gives its worker 3-5 sick days per year. They also give, on average, 2 weeks (10 days) vacation. Sick days, for most people, are anything but relaxing. First of all, you’re sick! You don’t feel well, you’re worried about your health. But most people I know (myself included) have their sick days ruined for another reason: guilt. They are worried about taking time off, worried about what their boss will say, worried about things that won’t get done, worried if they will be docked pay if they don’t get better soon, etc. It’s not usually a restful time for most people.

Vacation time is a bit different. We usually plan ahead for when we’d like to take the time, and we usually plan on doing something fun, getting away from it all. But in this day and age, with e-mail and cell phones, it’s hard to escape the daily grind, even if you are 2,000 miles away.

So why is it so hard for us to relax? Some would like to blame it on the previously mentioned technology, but there is a deeper cultural issue here. In Mexico, workers are allowed to take siestas, or little afternoon naps. In some European countries, you’re shunned if you show up for work if you’re sick. Every boss I’ve ever had here in America has made it perfectly clear, that if I’m not in the hospital, I’m at my desk (one of the main reasons I work for myself now)! Society has to function, so there is a certain wisdom about being accountable and responsible for showing up to work. But even when we’re not there?

If you’re one of the many people who suffers from this kind of inescapable “workaholic” stress, there is help. It’s a little thing I call “recharging the batteries.” Below are some helpful tips for helping you get your batteries back up to full power.

• Spread your vacation out during the year. Take some long, 3- or 4-day weekends. Don’t take all 2 weeks at once!
• When you do go on vacation, resist the urge to check your work e-mails and voicemail. You’ll have more fun if you don’t know what’s going on. And it will still be there when you get back!
• Go out with friends after work occasionally. Break out of the pattern of waking up, going to work, going home, going to sleep, repeat.
• Spend a day (or an evening) vegging out on the couch, with some snacks and some good movies (or if you’re me, some really bad movies!).
• Give in to some guilty pleasures! Stay up real late on a Saturday, and sleep in on Sunday. Spend a weekend with your kids, doing what they want. Most importantly, have fun!

These are just a few suggestions, but you get the idea. Take a little time for you. Your voicemails and e-mails will still be there in the morning. If you can’t fix the problem in the Bahamas, why worry about it there? Make some time for yourself, even if it’s just a little bit of time. You’d be amazed at how much better you can feel after just a little bit of time recharging the batteries.

Jason Stroming is a Life Coach specializing in relationships, career, personal development, and creativity. To learn more about Jason and his company, ACR Personal Life Coaching, please visit: http://www.acrnyc.com

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