I’ve just returned from a beach vacation. For those of you who know me well, you’ll know I have always contended that if it were not for the sun, the sand and the surf, I’d love the beach. What can I say? I’m just not a beach girl. Having said that, I had a lovely vacation at the seaside. I know that many of you probably also have wonderful memories of a recent vacation. Why do we go to all the effort? We pack up suitcases of stuff, shove umbrellas, chairs and bikes in the car or we fight long lines at airports and fly hours to get away. What’s the point?
- Vacations help us manage current and future stress. Regardless of where we work, there is likely to be stress. Relationship stress, deadline stress and workload stress are real and can be dangerous to our health if we don’t pay attention. The longer we stay in stress mode, the more difficult it becomes for us to relax our minds and bodies. It took me a few days to get to the point where I could sleep late, relax and do what I love most – read a book all day.
- Time off increases our productivity, not diminishes it. I’ve often heard people say that they don’t have time for a vacation. The result of relentless work is that we actually start producing less work in longer times. We also become emotionally more reactive with others. This produces a cycle of more tension, more stress and less productivity. While sitting on the patio during our vacation, watching the sunset, a solution to a problem that has been nagging me for months suddenly became apparent.
- Vacations make us laugh more. Along with stress levels dropping and being in a new environment, we tend to become more aware of what’s going on around us. This world of ours is a pretty funny place but in the rush of every day life we don’t always notice. While on our vacation my husband and I took photos of goofy things that amused us, laughed with strangers at the silly antics of small children and giggled at our own inside jokes. There’s a reason that the book of Proverbs says, “A merry heart does good like a medicine.”
- We exercise more or in different ways on vacation. Without noticing, we push our bodies more or differently than we do every day. Instead of driving, we tend to walk more. Perhaps we swim, hike, cycle or play games. We’re outdoors, exercising and enjoying it. I went for long walks along the seafront, rode a bike alongside my husband for miles and used muscles I didn’t know I had. It was great!
- Vacations can improve relationships. Time and intentionality are ingredients in which relationships thrive. My husband and I chose to drive to our vacation spot. (We fly around so much for work that driving was part of the vacation.) The road was quiet, easy to travel and six hours long. After a couple of hours on the road, we were singing along to our favorite music, laughing, joking, talking and refreshing our almost 40 year friendship.
We are created to be like God – productive and creative. Work is a vital part of who we are. Yet we are not God. We are created to rest, hence the Sabbath. If you took a vacation recently, I applaud you. If you have not taken time off in a while, I urge you to. It is good for you. Even Jesus recommended it to his disciples.
“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31