Wait! Before you submit that time off request, make sure you schedule the right amount of vacation days.
Whether you just closed a huge deal at work or you’re in the midst of a department-wide project, when your body tells you it’s time to take a break, it’s time to take a break. The science behind it is simple. Stress isn’t good for the brain. And the more stressed out you are at work, the less your brain can take in.
That’s where scheduled vacation time comes in. And not the two or three days out of the week that most people take off. We’re talking longer, more substantial getaways that give your body and mind enough time to refresh and reset. We’re talking 5 days (at least).
The magic number for your vacation request
When you're overwhelmed at work, your brain stops functioning right. The only medicine you need? Vacation. We can all relate to the feeling of being stressed at work and pushing through in the hopes that we’ll get more done, thus eliminating the stress altogether. But in many cases, that tactic doesn’t work. And when you don’t give your brain a full 5-day break, issues like insomnia, sleep deprivation, and potential heart-related problems start to creep in.
Organizational psychologist, coach, and author of Zen Your Work, a book about overcoming stress and challenges of the modern office, Dr. Karlyn Borysenko, fills us in on why a week is the right amount of time to take off. “A week is generally a good period of time. What you want to avoid is just taking a few days off during the week, and then heading back to work for the remainder - it’s just not enough of a break if the goal is disconnection.”
Taking an entire week off gives your body and mind a chance to fully disconnect. If you take only 2 or 3 days off, your mind will be split thinking about two separate things: the present (vacation) and the future (the work you have waiting for you afterwards). If you’re like the average American employee with about 10 paid vacation days, that sets you up nicely for two 5-day vacations.
Even better, if you follow a Monday through Friday work week schedule, your 5-day vacation really means 9 days with weekends added on. Once you leave work the Friday before, you have plenty of time to give your brain a rest. If you have more than 10 or even unlimited vacation days, you’re golden. Treat yourself and throw in as many 5-day vacations as you can afford.