• Arrivederci! Claiming Vacation.

    “Man cannot discover new oceans
    unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
    ― André Gide

    Expedia, however self-servingly, does a study every year on vacation deprivation. Apparently, their 2012 study showed that America still takes the least amount of vacation. Our employers give us less paid vacation than any other of the “developed” countries, and what they give us, we don’t take anyway. France, Spain, and Brazil are given 30 days paid vacation and they take every single one. The UK, Denmark, Sweden get about 27 and they take all those too. We get about 10 and we use about 7. Our culture values work, not rest. We value growth, not sustainability.

    For many Americans technology has created a 24-hour work day. This is shifting the way we experience work stress. We used to talk about bad days and anxiety attacks, but now more therapists seem to be seeing chronic low-levels of anxiety. People really cannot close their office doors and head home to their front porches to recharge anymore. There is a continuous stream of communication to attend to. Feeds come from an overabundance of social media sites, which are increasingly becoming less social and more business. If you are having a low level of anxiety all the time, you are also having a constant drip of excess stress hormones in your system. Constant stress leads to burnout, heart disease, stomachs ulcers, compromised immunity, grumpiness, just to name a few. Healthy life is simply not sustainable working in this way.

    There are many good blog posts and articles about the benefits of vacation written by psychologists, counselors, and health professionals everywhere:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/glenn-d-braunstein-md/taking-vacation_b_1688148.html, http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/05/24/vacation.mental.benefits/index.html

    The main benefits appear to be that you come back energized and recommitted to your work in the world, your brain flexes with new enriching experiences that create new neural pathways, and, more importantly to the marriage family therapist, vacation allows you to reconnect with your people in an emotional way, to share common joyful experiences, to see each other’s sweet side again.

    Yet, despite all of these good blogs and known benefits, the statistics continue. Other people in the world take August off. Americans are lucky to get a long weekend with a couple of conference calls in the mornings. I myself have checked email and rescheduled clients from an ageless granite boulder on top of the Sierras.

    But this year I am giving it a real European try. In this moment now, I am switching off my roaming and boarding a plane for Italy. Since I pedal self care for a living, I could call it research. But really, it’s vacation. Arrivederci; I will see you soon.

    Here are the survey graphs. http://www.expedia.com/p/info-other/vacation_deprivation.htm

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