As the cruise countdown icon on my desktop reads 11 days, 23 hours and 46 minutes till my 14-day cruise through the Panama Canal, I find I’m torn between totally disconnecting and staying in touch while gone. It feels incredibly decadent to give up an entire two weeks to vacation. I’m not alone.
More than half of American workers fail to take all their vacation, 30 percent say they use less than half their allotted time and 20 percent take only a few days instead of a week or two.
Even when we do go away, we don't really get away. We don’t mentally check out but instead keep our heads in the smartphone – irresistibly tethered to the technology that was supposed to give us freedom.
Science is finding that this can be unhealthy. Neuroscience is showing that we require down time in order for our bodies to go through the process of restoration and healing. We need a break from external stresses so our bodies can relax enough to activate restoration.
Other studies find that lack of time off burns people out, wreaks havoc on productivity and leads to more mistakes, anger, and resentment at co-workers. Vacationers experience an increase in job performance post-trip; however, mini vacations of two or three days off, do not deliver the same stress-reduction benefits as vacations that last one and two weeks."
Making yourself available 24/7 does not create peak performance," says psychiatrist Edward Hallowell, an instructor at Harvard Medical School. "Recreating the boundaries that technology has eroded does."
I’m determined to create my own boundaries with technology while on vacation so that I can relish its benefits. I’ll call my husband daily and share photos but disconnect from everything else (gulp!). I’ll appreciate new destinations –paying attention to what’s around me and talking with locals.
I’m ready for a break from all work – so I won’t be checking emails, text messages or voice mails. I’ve got a colleague covering for me in the event my clients have an emergency. I’m declaring that vacations are alive and well –what do you think?
Let us know how you handle technology and vacations!