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The Importance of Resting Time

Aug 17, 2007
Summer is a time for rest, relaxation, and a family vacation. But if you do not think you have time for a vacation, or that they're a waste of time, you could be hurting your health.

Researchers at the UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas remind us that getting away from our work and our everyday schedule is essential for good mental health and creativity. Vacations allow us to recharge our batteries and empty ourselves of everyday stress.

Vacations do not have to be expensive

You do not have to spend a lot of money to have a relaxing vacation. Simply taking yourself away from the daily grind for awhile will help. Here are some ideas:

1. Spend your vacation time pursuing a favorite hobby, such as putting together a jigsaw puzzle, woodworking, or painting
2. Visit a friend or family member
3. Take walks in a local park
4. Join a club or try something new
5. Play games with your friends or family

Post-traumatic Vacation Disorder?

Do not let the benefits of your vacation be eliminated by the stress of piles of work and e-mail, which can overwhelm you on your first day back in the office. Wrap up as much as possible before you leave and make a priority list of things to do when you get. And most importantly, relax. It will get done!

All work and no play?

In our stressful society, vacations and "down time" are more important than ever. Yet nearly half of all full-time workers in the U. S. do not use all of their vacation time each year. On average, workers forfeit eight vacation days a year to their employers.

There are many reasons that Americans decide to forego their vacations, but the consequences are the same: increased stress, loss of creativity, and loss of energy. If workers continue to forfeit their vacations, over time the result may be burnout.

Symptoms of burnout

Burnout is a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that results from long-term stress. There are numerous causes, including working long hours, low job satisfaction, excessive school work or studying, relationships that drain you of energy, being spread too thin, trying to be superman or superwoman, or trying to be perfect. Since we all experience these causes at some time or another, how do you know if you're burned out? You may have any of these symptoms:

1. Physical problems, such as fatigue, headaches, backaches, or stomachaches
2. Emotional exhaustion
3. Loss of enthusiasm for work, school, family, or friends
4. Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness
5. Depression
6. Inability to concentrate
7. Acts of hostility or emotional outbursts

Avoiding burnout

The best way to avoid burnout is to care for your mental and emotional well-being. Follow these tips to help you reduce stress and avoid burnout:

1. Do not spread yourself too thin: learn to say "No."
2. Prioritize your work load and avoid working long hours.
3. Take regular 5-10 minute relaxation breaks.
4. Eat a healthy diet, exercise, and get plenty of sleep.
5. Be aware of any physical signs that may precede burnout, such as headaches, body aches, fatigue, or being sick often. Consult your physician if you have any of these symptoms.
6. Mentally remove yourself from your job, school, or other stressful situations and view it from an outsider point of view. If necessary, seek help from a counselor.
7. Do your best, but do not try to be perfect.
8. Take a vacation at least once a year!

If your schedule is a bit overwhelming, and you do not know what to do to balance your responsibilities, consult with your physician or with a counselor. They may be able to help. In the meantime, however, do not throw away your vacation time! Take advantage of summer and have some fun!
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