I recently stumbled upon a very alarming fact-every third American is vacation deprived. According to an Expedia.com survey, an estimated 51.2 million Americans will not use all of their vacation days this year by leaving an average of three vacation days.
Does this mean that Americans don't like to vacation?
Or does it mean that Americans love their jobs so much that they are ready to cut their vacation time to get back to work?
Or may be they don't know HOW to vacation?
It seems logical that one would use much deserved vacation time to relax, replenish energy and return to the work place feeling refreshed. Right?
Why do you think Americans are vacation deprived?
1. Some people can not afford to take a vacation- they simply need the money.
2. Others are afraid to lose their job upon returning. Big job insecurity- big concerns- big waistline.
3. Vacation time is so short that there is no time to unwind and forget about your daily routine. Thirty percent of workers say that they struggle with work stress while away and the very thought of all the tasks left behind and the to-do list poisons their vacation time.
4. Some people prefer to save the money by staying around the house. What happens in this case scenario is that they are sitting on the same couch as usual, getting bored after 4 days and can't wait to return to work thinking: „Boy, was I not right. I didn't need this vacation and now there is so much to catch up at work. It was not worth it".
5. Other people use vacation time to take care of important family business (and this you can imagine is not a low stress level endeavor).
6. I have a friend that takes her vacation time and heads back to her native country to take care of her sick mother. I myself had to take care of my dying mother for months and I know first hand this has nothing at all to do with a "vacation".
What happens in reality is that many people take their stress, problems and anxiety with them and transform their get-way into an extension of their office, sitting on the beach with a lap top on their lap and a cell phone that rings non-stop. (If this sounds familiar you may be vacation deprived.)
Or even worse, many cut their vacation to rush to their office because "nobody else" can take care of "The Problem" that has arisen in their absence.
As a result we are talking about 51 million vacation deprived Americans!
Let us see what happens to vacation deprived people
The stress that was supposed to be released during the vacation keeps accumulating. The sleep deprivation keeps accumulating. One is too tired to get any exercise. And the food is so available, so comforting and so ready to eat (just push the button on the microwave or reach your arm through the car window at the drive-thru and that's it.
What a wonderful life! Who cares about vacation any way.
By the way - have you noticed that your waistline is bigger this summer than it was last summer or 2 summers ago?
What is my point here?
There is no doubt that Americans (at least 51 million of them) are vacation deprived for various reasons. We can't change the fact that vacation time is short, but we can learn how to vacation for real even if we have only 4 days.
Vacation is not all about money. Vacation is about full relaxation. You need to learn to relax Learn to give a break not only to your body but to your mind that is in over-drive all year long. Leave the laptop at home, turn the cell off and close your eyes.
Now do a simple test
With your eyes closed imagine you are on the beach, in the mountains or where ever your favorite spot is. Try to „hear" the sounds. Just listen to the wind in the leaves or the waves splash on the sand. Do you hear it?
First case scenario: If the answer is „Yes" after 5 min of relaxation, you pass the test. You are able to relax. Practice this technique during the lunch break in your office or at home. It takes ONLY 5 minutes!
Second case scenario: You find yourself distracted during the 5 min relaxation by your thoughts about the traffic or the tasks you have to finish before you leave the office or tapping your legs thinking that you are wasting your time (after all you could have done so much more instead).
If you fit into the second scenario- you are in trouble. You have to learn to relax and fight stress.
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