How Often Should You Take Vacation?
I know you are busy and have things to do, but you also need a little rest to recharge these batteries. So, is it worth planning one big vacation a year? Or should you divide your days into multiple vacations? The quantity can sometimes trump the quality.
First of all, no matter how you use your days off, you should use them – and as soon as possible. The longer you put aside your free time, the worse you are doing things for yourself. Not only are you at risk of burnout , one nine-year study published in Psychosomatic Medicine suggests that skipping vacation at least once a year can increase your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. So, you are killing not only your joy, but yourself as well. Give yourself a break, people.
However, when you should take these breaks depends on several factors. How many days you have available, what activities bring you joy, whether you have a family or not, and other variables come into play. Because of this, there is no perfect formula that fits everyone – sorry. But there are a few more things that anyone can try for! We know that for maximum relaxation, you should aim for a vacation of seven to 11 days . This gives you ample time to release stress at work, completely relax, and completely calm down.
The same study, published in the Journal of Happiness Research , also recommends spreading the vacation evenly rather than using all the days at once. Eight days might seem like a lot to someone who only gets 10 vacation days a year, but if you combine your weekend with your weekends, you can manage two evenly spaced eight-day vacations a year. If you have 14 days of paid leave, that’s almost three separate eight-day vacations that you can use to divide your year into three. As tempting as it may be to use all your days for one long “summer break,” your overall goal should be to strike the perfect balance between quality (duration plus joy) and quantity (frequency).
Vacation frequency is also important because scheduling multiple breaks throughout the year means you always have something to count on. Planning and the anticipation that comes with it makes us happier . If you only take one long vacation each year, the excitement builds up much more slowly and seems so distant that it can actually lead to feelings of despair. In addition, some studies (like this one and this ) show that pre-vacation stress can be higher with extended vacations, as it often requires more preparation. Spontaneous vacations or leisure activities can often be more rewarding than trips that you also carefully plan , as these are all games, not work.
According to researchers , the best thing you can do for yourself is to view your free time as a necessary component of a healthy lifestyle:
Therefore, the question of why we should continue on vacation can be compared to the question of why we should go to bed, given the fact that we are tired again. Periods of effort at work must be interspersed with periods of recovery in order to stay healthy in the long term. Therefore, instead of skipping vacation or taking only one extended vacation in a few years, it seems much more reasonable to schedule several shorter vacations during the work year to maintain high levels of H&W [happiness and well-being].
The best time to plan your vacation is when you think you will need it the most. When planning your year, ask yourself: “Where will the most valuable time off be for me?” It may not be in the middle of summer, when everyone is traveling, but in spring, after a hard winter. Or maybe you think you need a recharge at the end of the summer before a busy fall. When will you most need stress relief? Determine this time first, and then try to carve out some good vacations throughout the year. You will be much happier if you do this.