When I am speaking at industry events, I like to ask, “How many of you took a vacation last year?” It’s shocking how often large portions of my audiences do not raise their hands.
We groomers are hard workers, and it’s easy to find reasons or excuses not to take time off. But down time is good for you. It’s good for your staff. Research proves its good for everyone’s mental and physical health. Plus, it boosts productivity in the long run.
My companies have always had generous vacation policies. I firmly believe personal time to rest and relax or to pursue other activities improves morale. It’s important to everyone’s well-being to spend quality time with loved ones, relax, or have new adventures.
I just returned from one of my favorite vacations. I’m fortunate. I have a father who has had a sailboat in the Caribbean Islands for over 30 years. Rarely a year passes that I don’t get to spend time with my dad, friends, and family on the boat. This year my close friend and industry leader, Judy Hudson, was able to join my husband Marc and I on the boat.
Judy is a doer. A get-it-done kind of gal. She works incredibly hard. She never stops. She is always making decisions. She’s always responsible.
With her arrival to the Sundowner in St. Lucia, all of that went away. She could just relax and stop – something very rare for Miss Judy. She was able to experience new things, some pushing her way out of her comfort zone. Snorkeling in the turquoise waters of the open sea. Sailing for up to eight hours. Together we went to amazing locations and had plenty of fabulous food. We even got to watch a whale swim beside the boat for a short time before it dove to the depths of the ocean.
It took her a few days to fall into the “island time groove,” but she did. I think it was the first time I’ve ever seen this woman just stop and fully relax.
By the time our time was up, we were all rested and refreshed – ready to tackle the world upon our return to our everyday lives.
Vacations are not a luxury. They’re a necessity for a healthy, well-balanced life. They are as important as eating well and getting exercise. You don’t necessarily have to go to an exotic location, spend a lot of money, or travel to distant lands to have a relaxing vacation. Some of the best vacations could be “stay-cations” where you’ve never left home.
The key to any successful vacation is in the planning and getting a break from your usual routine.
Here are a few benefits for creating downtime.
- Vacations Alleviate Stress – Stress is a response originally meant to help keep us safe. It releases hormones for the flight or fight response necessary for our early survival. However, today, chronic stress can be destructive to us both mentally and physically. Getting away for regular vacations, leaving our everyday stresses behind, gives us a break. Vacations allow the consistent high levels of stress-related hormones to subside. They also give your body the opportunity repair some of the damage.
- Vacations Help Maintain Focus – Studies find chronic stress can hamper goal-directed activities and causes problems with memory. Working without breaks, down time or vacations can make people feel stuck, frustrated and distracted. Studies show almost 75% of people who vacation regularly feel energized and ready to tackle the tasks at hand.
- Vacations Make You Happier – Chronic exposure to stress contributes to depression and anxiety. Studies shows that women who do not take regular vacations are three times more likely to be depressed and anxious. Reports find people who take regular vacations feel happy with an overall feeling of well-being compared to those who did not vacation. Many stated these effects lasting beyond their actual vacation.
- Vacations Reduce Illness – Stress can alter your immune system, making you vulnerable to many illnesses. With a weakened immune system, you are more susceptible to common illnesses like the cold or flu. But long-term stress can also make you much more prone to more serious illnesses, as well.
- Vacations Support Relationships – Vacationing with your family or loved ones helps create closer bonds. These shared experiences promote family ties. Family vacations create more memories than any other activity. Vacationing together creates experiences that remain in your memory. Studies find people place a greater value on their shared experiences over material items they have accumulated in their lifetime.
- Vacations Make You More Productive – Research shows the more vacation time people have, the more productive they become. Regular vacations also reduce the number of missed workdays. At work, vacations increase production and job satisfaction.
When was last time you took a vacation where you could just decompress? Taking a vacation can do amazing things for your well-being – even if it is a well-planned out stay-cation.
As an employer, encouraging your team to take vacation time will improve morale. Even short vacations help. We see this every day at one of my companies. At Whiskers Resort & Pet Spa, we make people use their vacation time. With almost 60 staff members, last year only two people did not use ALL their time. I firmly believe this contributes to the amazing harmony we have with the team.
If you are feeling run down, stressed, frustrated, or overworked – take the time to unwind. Step away from the grooming table. Step away from the shop. Step away from the business.
I encourage you to make down time for yourself and your fellow team members. True vacations renew and reboot your system. Typically, people return from vacation refreshed which increases productivity and thinking clarity.
Do you take down time? Why or why not? Jump on our Facebook page and share your thoughts with your Melissa Verplank family.