Vacation from Vacation

Shmuel Fischler, LCSW-C · January 11, 2018

Countless Americans work from “vacation to vacation,” and return to work only to start another countdown until they can leave again. While vacations have been shown to temporarily relieve employee burnout, long vacations aren’t all that they’re cracked up to be.

The Positive Impacts of Traditional Vacations

In a study at Tel Aviv University, researchers surveyed accountants about their level of exhaustion before vacation, during vacation and after returning to work. They found that vacation was beneficial in the immediate aftermath, but just three days after clocking in again the positive effects started to evaporate. Three weeks after returning from vacation, workers were just as stressed as before they went on vacation.

The Downside of Vacation

While traditional vacations can provide a brief reduction of stress, they can also force workers to return to work even more stressed out! Many travelers end up packing their weeks off with plans, even if they have a staycation. Longer vacations are often even more stressful, since they require a tremendous amount of planning and last-minute adjustments while away. Anyone who has ever dealt with a canceled flight intimately understands how stressful a vacation can be.

Could a Shorter Workweek Be More Beneficial Than a Longer Vacation?

One of the alternatives to stressful longer vacations is shorter workweeks. By giving workers breaks more frequently, the positive effects of vacation can last longer and lead to long-term happiness and satisfaction. A study of 1,500 Dutch workers found that employees enjoy the anticipation of going on vacation much more than the vacation itself.

The Key to a Great Shorter Vacation

A stress-free, relaxing short vacation has been shown to be more impactful on productivity and happiness than a longer vacation. To enjoy a wonderful brief vacation over the course of a weekend:

  • Leave your computer or laptop at home. After all, it’s easier to get away for a couple of days and easier to get back on track when you return.
  • Pick a single goal for your vacation. Over-planning will destroy any hope of relaxation that you had, but setting a single goal (visiting an art gallery or spending a day at the beach) will reduce stress and let you fully enjoy your plans.

Managing Your Mental Health on the Job

If you are struggling to relax on vacation or having difficulty managing your workload, contact CBT Baltimore to get on the right track at 443-470-9815.