August is here and while millions of people have already gone on vacation, millions more are gearing up for the final weeks of summer and planning a break. You might be on one now. The power of vacation has been researched by everyone from the Harvard Business Review to the American Psychological Association and the conclusion is clear. People return from vacation happier, more creative and innovative, and more productive. So much more productive that it counteracts the productivity benefit to your company of employees not taking a vacation. However, it is particularly important for leaders to take vacation. It gives time to reflect and review, it demonstrates trust in your teams, and it gives time for pursuits that flex your creative muscles.
But we may have all experienced those vacations where we return feeling like we need a vacation from our vacation. COVID precautions have compounded that stress over the past few years with testing, retesting, quarantine requirements and more.
I would like to posit that there is such a thing as a purposeful vacation that will leave you feeling rested, relaxed and rejuvenated. It can be an international trip, a local drive away or a staycation, but here are the key ingredients:
5 tips on how to have a purposeful vacation:
- Learn Something
Whether it’s by kicking back and reading a book, googling the history of the town you are staying in, or visiting an art and culture museum, vacation gives us the opportunity to experience and learn something new. That new learning can spark new innovations, increase creative problem solving skills and provide a sense of accomplishment.
- Get out in Nature
Our bodies are attuned to how much time we spend in nature and most of us don’t spend nearly enough time there. Trees actually give off chemicals that have been shown to be as powerful as antidepressants. Whether it’s a hike through the woods, a long walk on the beach, or finding a local park to do that book reading in, figure out a way to bring nature into your day.
- Eat and Drink Locally
Food can be one of the most fun parts of vacation, especially if you decide to go local. Skip the chains and find that local diner, the independent clam shack, or that artsy coffeehouse. Try whatever the local beverage is. If you want to splurge, peruse the top rated places online and find those that are independent chefs supporting local farms. Or ask for a recommendation with that “local” filter.
- Meet Someone New
Introverts might argue that this is not relaxing or rejuvenating, but the research shows that meeting new people while traveling can benefit your life and your career. I first met one of my bridesmaids and close friends on a beach in Thailand nearly thirty years ago and over 20% of Americans met their spouse while traveling.
- Give Back
There are many ways to contribute to the local community, whether at home or while traveling. Find local organizations that offer short volunteer opportunities, from walking the dogs at a shelter, helping sea turtles or other wildlife, or drop-in gardening or farming support. Make a donation to a local organization that impresses you. Drop a bag of food off at a food bank. It could be as simple as picking up some litter. Research shows that giving back, however you choose to do it, is very good for your health.
However you choose to vacation this year, I hope it provides the recharge you need to come back ready to tackle whatever the future has in store for us the rest of this year. The world right now needs us at our best.
Quote of the Week: “Some of your best ideas come when you’re on vacation.”Gautam Singhania