Have you ever decided not to travel for a vacation and stayed home instead? If you have, you opted for a staycation.
There are a variety of reasons to choose a staycation. Maybe you’re burned out and need a break. Maybe money is tight and you can’t afford to travel. Perhaps you have family reasons for staying close to home during your time off.
Or, maybe you took a vacation but brought along your laptop “just in case” something came up at work? Then, inevitably, you ended up taking calls and working more than expected. That’s a workcation. I’ve done that so many times I’ve lost count.
Neither of these scenarios count as true vacations.
Merriam-Webster defines vacation as “a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation.” Unfortunately, many of us are not going “away” from our personal or professional commitments and, as a result, we’re short-changing ourselves.
And the data tells us good news and bad news. According to a Project:Time Off study, 52% of employees had unused vacations days at the end of the year, compared to 54% in 2016 and 55% in 2015.
These numbers are trending down, meaning some of us have started using our well-earned time off.
52% of Americans are leaving vacations days on the table.
And here’s the kicker. “Mid-life risk factors can impact quality of life and well-being in old age,” according to the Helsinki Businessmen Study and summarized by CNBC. “Working too hard, not sleeping enough and not taking enough vacation can lead to a higher mortality rate.”
Before you short-change yourself, consider these thoughts.
There’s a difference between needing a day off and taking a vacation. Days off are necessary and good for your mental health. Sleep in, then get up and cross items off your personal to-do list. Vacations are a whole different experience.
Many studies have been done on vacations. Most of them validate that taking a true vacation makes you happier and more rested, as well as more productive and creative when you return to the workplace.
Plan vacations that fill you up with whatever you’re low on, such as rest, new experiences, being outdoors or family time, to name a few. Without a break from your regular stressors, you are likely to be more unhappy and, possibly, unhealthy.
Also, if you lean toward staycations, keep this in mind. It’s easy in midlife to get comfortable in our homes. It’s familiar and safe. For a different perspective on how to get out of your comfort zone at home more often, check out our previous post, “Get Out of the House!”
As we age, we become more self-aware. We also begin to understand the importance of being healthy, both physically and mentally. Putting a real vacation on your calendar in advance can help you in your pursuit of a happier and more prolonged life.