Continuous Improvement

Take a vacation.
It may save your life.

June 21, 2013

Womanonbeach2 It’s the first day of summer! Remember when you were a kid, and the first day of summer meant summer vacation was not far away? Well it’s time to find your “inner kid,” and take a vacation. Here’s why.

As part of a study done in the ’70s and early ’80s called the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial, 12,866 men between the ages of 35 and 57 were asked annually for 5 years whether they had taken a vacation in the last years. The results showed that men taking annual vacations were nearly 20 percent less likely to die during the next 9 years compared to men skipping annual vacations. The study found that a reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease deaths was most strongly associated with taking regular annual vacations.

The Framingham Heart Study compared women who vacationed at least twice a year to others who vacationed every six years or less. The study found that skipping just one year’s vacation was associated with an elevated risk of heart disease. And . . . I hope you are sitting down.  The women who didn’t take vacations were up to eight times more likely to suffer from heart disease or have a heart attack than those who took two vacations a year.

A study from 2010 and reported by CNN found that “35% of Americans feel better about their job and are more productive after a vacation.”   I’m surprised that number isn’t higher.  Vacations help us recharge.  They let us disconnect and give our minds the opportunity to relax and re-boot.

Our profession is obsessed with work.  Too many lawyers I know actually feel guilty about taking vacations. For a legal culture that wears working long hours like badge of honor, the idea of taking vacations and encouraging your team to take vacations may sound crazy.  But the truth is working longer hours and taking fewer vacations – or worse not taking any vacations – doesn’t necessarily translate to higher productivity or a better bottom line.  In fact, the greater likelihood is that if you’re not taking vacations and encouraging your team to do the same, you’re burning yourself – and everyone around you – out.  That does not equate to a happy and productive workplace.

The bottom line is that vacations are good for your bottom line. Vacations are good for your health. Heck, vacations may save your life. Now, go take one.

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