Why We Need Vacations

For many years, I regarded a vacation as a necessity.  Like the two day weekend, I considered it vital to my health and well-being.  Then I stopped being able to afford the time or money to take a vacation, and next thing you know, a decade and a half had gone by.  Guess what? I lived.  But my body has taken a beating, because the continual ongoing activities of my job — typing, mousing, clicking — are gradually rendering my right arm useless.

That’s when I realized that the reason we take vacations isn’t just for the change of scenery, although that’s important too.  The real reason we need vacations is for the rest part of R&R.  You can’t do the same thing to your body day after day for years without your body parts eventually wearing out.  This is what’s happening to me.

Now that I know that I need to rest my body occasionally, I have an even more radical view of vacations.  One week a year is nice but it’s not enough.  The average person needs at least two weeks, and preferably four, spread throughout the year, to give body parts ravaged by repetitive stress a chance to recover.

Alas, vacations are starting to be luxury items with resort-type places charging $120 and up for a room for the night, and resort-located restaurants $100 or more for dinner for two. But that doesn’t reduce the necessity for a week of not doing the same old same old.  If you’re anything like me, a staycation won’t work — staying at home means I will do at least some of what I normally do and/or stress about it until I do.  So that’s out.  The only way for someone like me to relax is to leave home, go to a relatively nice place (involving scenery, water, little shops), and act like a tourist.

This year, we’re going to try to do that.  I don’t know how, I don’t know when, but for several consecutive days this summer (or fall) I intend to do nothing more taxing than turn the pages of a book.  My shoulder will thank me.  My neck will rejoice.  My mind will wander.  And I won’t feel the slightest bit guilty about it because it’s a heath expense — and you don’t want to skimp on your health, now do you!  Vacate if you can.  Your body will thank you.

Comments | 8

  • Dear Lise

    but why do you punish yourself so? Why? Why do you feel that you should do work that depletes you instead of inspires you? I think it’s because you work everyday. We all think that we have to work everyday and for eight hours a day but who says so? Are we prepared to forfeit our health and the days of our lives in order to keep up with some idea that we are born to work every day for eight hours per day? Are there ways that you can change things for the better, like get some help with something that you don’t like doing so that you can have more free time. Every moment is a choice. That’s a very powerful idea.

  • Momma’s got a squeeze box

    In addition to R&R vacations, and perhaps, more important for repetitive stress work patterns, are daily mini vacations during intensive work periods. Sometimes, only 5-10 minutes breaks several times or more are quite useful daily.

    I also keep hand therapy balls on my desk to squeeze during and in between tying. The squeeze balls are also useful to flex your forearm tendons and rotating wrist exercises. Your can take turns with each arm while squeezing the balls to rotate your elbow, shoulder rotator cuff muscles and neck muscles. Most importantly, is to not focus on or count the the exercises, but let them be random movements, almost in an unconscious way, without thinking too much about them while your working on screen..

    But as you point out, “Vacate if you can. Your body will thank you” will always serve you well.

  • Change of Scenery

    I work in a medical profession. So it may be ironic but some of my favorite “vacations” have been spent doing what I normally do day after day, but as a volunteer in a third world country, improvising with primitive facilities and unreliable electricity, caring for patients far more seriously needy than anyone I would ever see at home. A week of that recharges me for another year of my real job.

  • Musings on Vacationing

    I decided to take the whole summer off this Spring. It’s working out very well. I have a devil-may-care attitude and do as I please. It turns out I’m still working here and there but that is far from my main focus. I am doing all the recreational things I want to do and not spending many dimes. My attitude and my focus are the main differences, and yes, my body finds itself in different places doing different things at a much slower pace. Time is standing still for me and I’m just expanding my idea of what living a life entails. Our body parts do repetitive motion with our jobs; I’m finding that our minds go through tired tracks of sand as well when we are not vacationing. It’s really about ease of physical motion, ease of emotion and ease of thought motion.

  • Working Girls Vacation Society benefit

    July 29 1887: The Phoenix

    “Every one should remember the entertainment to be given at Crosby hall this evening for the benefit of the working girls vacation society. The young people have spared no pains to render the program attractive, and the object is certainly a most worthy one.”

    • "Working Girls"?

      Is that girls who have a job or is it “working girls” who have a different kind of job? Be very progressive if the latter are being rewarded with an ‘attractive program”!

      • 9 to 5

        Probably seamstresses, factory workers, millworkers…

        This is to prevent them from becoming that other sort of working girl, I’d imagine. Much like the Thompson Trust was organized.

  • Girls just want to have......... a vacation..

    Personally, I think all working girls- regardless of their career choices- deserve a vacation and an ‘attractive program’ every once in awhile.

    Is that really why the Thompson Trust was established?

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