Therapy Can Work

Katherine Rabinowitz, LP, M.A., NCPsyA

Licensed Psychotherapist & Psychoanalyst
Union Square, Greenwich Village, New York, NY

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Therapy Can Work

Katherine Rabinowitz, LP, M.A., NCPsyA

Licensed Psychotherapist & Psychoanalyst
Union Square, Greenwich Village, New York, NY

Do I Really Need To Take A Vacation? Absolutely!

Do I Really Need To Take A Vacation? Absolutely!

I wish I’d known sooner that success isn’t defined by
who goes the longest without vacation.

~Arianna Huffington

I just got back from a two-week vacation, expecting to wish it hadn’t ended. Oddly enough, I felt energized, and very much looked forward to getting back to work. Partly because I love what I do, and partly because my brain had rested while I was away, making me feel revitalized and refreshed. When I realized this I decided to make this blog about the need for everyone to take regular vacations if they possibly can.

As I always do before I write a blog post, I did some online research. To my surprise there was no dissent whatsoever in the several articles I read. Often there is, and I meld my thoughts with the more trustworthily written pieces. But on this topic, it was almost as if they all copied from each other, saying exactly the same thing. YES, you should take a vacation and here’s why.

The most compelling reasons have to do with the benefits to your health. As the information is virtually identical everywhere, I won’t cite the statistics nor the sources, just the facts.

If you take vacations where you are truly away from your work, you

• Are far less likely to develop heart disease

• Will restore healthy sleep patterns

• Stress will be reduced and productivity increased

• Blood pressure is reduced

• Improve your immune system

• Reduce anxiety and risk of depression

• Improve your memory, creativity and problem solving

• Have fewer aches, pains, less fatigue and fewer health problems in general

• Are more focused and productive on the job – there is less likelihood of burnout

• Will experience greater morale and a greater sense of self-worth

• Will live longer, and be happier overall, more satisfied with your life.

The list goes on. Feel free to research it yourself – you’ll find the same points driven home.

Many people don’t take vacations because they’re afraid they’ll be discovered “replaceable” on the job. That they’ll get behind in their work, or their bosses will see their absence as a kind of shortcoming or lack of commitment. To their surprise, if they take vacation time, they’ll discover that not only will they not be behind in their work, they are more productive upon their return.

This seems contradictory, right? You’re gone for a week or two and you’re afraid the work will pile up. If you’re smart about it, you’ll arrange for someone to cover for you on the more important parts of your job and you’ll pick up where you left off when you get back, with renewed energy and commitment.

There are all kinds of physiological reasons for why this works – like reduced cortisol levels (cortisol contributes to stress), lower blood pressure, better mood, etc. etc., but that isn’t what I want to focus on. It’s the emphasis on the need to take care of yourself. To give yourself permission to not work, to rest, to enjoy yourself, have fun. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels.

If you can imagine such a thing, leave your phone and laptop home. If that’s not possible, then keep them shut down as much as you can. Resist the temptation to “just check in” 15 times a day. Go somewhere with no cell or internet connection. Allow your brain to truly rest.

A brief sidebar: the same goes for not taking lunch when you are at work, eating at your desk (if you even eat at all). I can’t emphasize it enough. Your brain needs to rest. So go for a walk. Have lunch with a co-worker, or make a date to meet a friend for a quick slice of pizza or salad. This is taking mini-vacations every single day. And on the weekends, don’t stay tethered to your computer, do something pleasurable. Your brain will thank you for it and you will reap the rewards of hitting the re-set button. Try it. It works.

I’ll end this one with another quote:

“Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us,
and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence.

Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.
Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.”

~ Maya Angelou, “Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now”

2 comments on “Do I Really Need To Take A Vacation? Absolutely!”

  1. Boy, this really hit home. I, like my colleagues, get to work at 7:00 AM and never leave before 5:30 PM. Lunch is most often eaten at our desks with our phones not forwarded. As salaried employees, we are not entitled to overtime, so the organization gets all of this extra work for free. I find myself ruminating about work over the weekends which negatively impacts my family relationships. I think that we come to believe that we are indispensable when, in fact, we can be easily replaced. I think of people who have retired, who have been so important to the organization and to their teams, and who are now forgotten. In the end, no matter how much you love or believe in your job or profession, it is not the totality of your life and in order to be truly effective and productive, I think that finding balance and taking time for oneself, even if it means forwarding the phone while you eat, is absolutely critical. That’s what I’m working on in an effort to continue to do what I love without burning out.

     
  2. What’s interesting about vacation is how many people leave a number where they can be reached, check their email and answer it every day, and otherwise don’t really check out of work during their vacation. I found myself under pressure to do this during my vacation, because everyone else at my organization was making themselves available in various ways during their vacations.

    In my case, we were perpetually overworked, so working during vacation, not taking lunch, working late hours, etc. was a way to keep up, meet deadlines, and meet managers’ expectations. Also, although everyone agreed there was too much work, higher management didn’t do anything serious to address the problem.

    I agree it’s important to insist on taking regular breaks during the day and regular vacations, our culture does not encourage that. Sometime in the culture needs to change!

     

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