Being a successful business owner who manages their own company and regularly makes critical decisions, you think you’ve pretty much figured most things out. And of course, when it comes to vacations (you’ve had a couple by now), you have everything down pat, right?
Let’s check out what the trusted Merriam-Webster has to say. They define a “vacation” as “a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation,” as “a scheduled period during which activity is suspended,” or as “a time of respite from something.”
In your case, this means that, for you to be on vacation, like really be on vacation, you’ll need to spend it away from the responsibilities of managing your business. You need to actually make time to schedule that long-overdue break from the daily grind. So, when was the last time that you had an honest-to-goodness vacation, not just some watered-down version of it? In the first place, do you, in fact, need one?
Why You Should Commit to a Vacation
Here are a few good reasons why it is absolutely essential to start taking your vacations seriously.
1. Vacations Improve Mental Health
While labor laws, such as the FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act), help protect the mental health of employees by requiring business owners to provide them with job-protected and unpaid medical leaves, there is no law that compels business owners to avail of leaves. Thus, it is commonplace for someone who runs their own company to go without any breaks for very long periods of time. And the consequences can be disastrous both on your productivity and wellbeing.
Although there are many reasons for mental health problems, constant stress can increase the risks for mental health issues. Taking time to de-stress and recharge can help you avoid the negative effects of stress on your mental health. When you’re on vacation, you are temporarily taken out of those environments that are associated with stress and anxiety.
2. Vacations Improve Heart Health
One study reveals that people who vacation more often are less likely to have symptoms of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that can occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. It was even discovered that the risk went down further with each additional vacation taken.
When you take the time to slow down, your body, including your heart, undergoes less oxidative stress. While oxidation, a normal process through which the body detoxifies itself, is necessary, anxiety can turn it into oxidative stress. This oxidative stress is what happens when your cells go into fight-or-flight mode. This may cause arrhythmia and is even linked to heart failure. Stress can also spike cortisol levels in the body which increase blood pressure and result in palpitations. If this happens often, this can lead to coronary heart disease.
Taking a vacation, then, is crucial if you intend your heart to keep going for many more years.
3. Vacations Enhance Sleep
In much the same way that stress causes certain bodily functions to break down, it can also negatively affect your sleep. When you’re anxious, your body naturally tenses up to protect itself from “attacks,” whether they’re real or imagined. And more often than not, the threats turn out to be non-existent or less dire than initially perceived. Regardless, your body will find it difficult to relax when it is always alert and on defense mode, resulting in disruptions in sleep patterns.
In one commissioned research, it was found out that participants who went on a vacation for two or three days were able to sleep well for one hour more. Sleeping in a different bed while on your vacation may also help you relax more since the new lodgings tend to dissociate you from your usual poor sleeping patterns. If you’re always on the lookout for ways to sleep better, perhaps a bit of R&R may just be the thing to induce your zzzs.
4. Vacations Improve Your Relationship with Yourself
Did you know that you can be your own worst enemy? You procrastinate because you fear failure. And then you bombard yourself with adrenaline to hit the targets you’ve set for yourself, causing all your stress hormones to wreak havoc on your body. And once the task or project is finally done and you’re feeling euphoric and self-congratulatory, you do more damage by self-sabotaging yourself with late nights of partying, alcohol, and overeating. Then, you repeat the cycle all over again.
Incorporating vacations into your self-care routine tells your subconscious that, for once, you are taking care of yourself. More importantly, this shows that you think that you are valuable enough to be taken care of. Enhanced self-worth can help you avoid procrastination, give you the confidence to make hard decisions and innovations, and adopt lifestyle habits that make you healthier.
So when you finally decide to take that much-needed vacation, delegate, set clear approval parameters, and leave the management of your company in capable hands (surely, there must be a couple of them). Then, muster the courage to tell your managers and staff that you need to take a real vacation without interruptions, without any emails or calls, and LET GO. You obviously can make an exception for “urgent business,” which should be defined as anything that will result in the permanent closure of your company.
And perhaps, the one you’ll need the most convincing is yourself. Keep in mind that vacations aren’t just life-changing but also life-saving. Be kind to yourself—commit to a vacation today.