If you are reading this, you probably need a vacation. If you don’t believe me, please complete the brief survey below:

  1. Are your days so mired in routine that you can’t differentiate yesterday from last Thursday?
  2. Does it seem like your morning alarm always rings way too soon?
  3. Do you feel constantly anxious, exhausted and / or overwhelmed but don’t have the time to rest?
  4. Do you feel like you don’t have the time to accomplish the important things in life?
  5. Was your last vacation consisting of two consecutive days of rest more than 180 days ago?

If you answered yes to most, if not all, of the questions above, take some comfort in the fact that you are not alone – most Americans feel overworked and stressed out, and the United States, out of any other nation, seems to being doing a great job spearheading this effort.

Now it’s time to make you uncomfortable – research shows that overworked Americans are not significantly increasing productivity, and are shouldering many deleterious side effects. No time for family, no time for hobbies, poor eating and sleeping habits, increased anxiety and decreased satisfaction with life. Essentially, more pain, no gain.

In a nation founded upon an industrious Puritan work ethic, hard work and productivity are revered as unquestionable virtues, and they are, to a point. However, although most of us already know this phenomenon to some instinctual level, the “law of diminishing returns” explains why hard work and productivity become decoupled after a certain threshold. Remember writing that college thesis? Past midnight, it seemed like hours would fly by, with little accomplished. Our biology prevents us from toiling like automatons, and instead of fighting a losing battle, we need to acknowledge that even with an IV of caffeine, our brains eventually run out of gas and shut down.

Here comes the obvious solution with a less-than-obvious application. We need more rest. Rest and recovery is the integral variable to the equation of our well-being. All athletes know this principle poignantly – one will become faster and stronger if rest days are incorporated into a training regimen; the lack thereof results in increased fatigue, weakness, and injury. This same principle applies to our productive capabilities.

Understandably, every individual has unique circumstances that affect their ability to get rest, and I can’t reasonably argue for every American to take an additional week of vacation. But I will advocate for every American to make rejuvenation priority, whether it’s a five-minute break by the office window or a week out of town. Your brain will thank you.

block island

This is the moment where the rubber meets the road – get out your calendar and cordon off a chunk of time for yourself. Defend those squares fiercely. If you find it would be easier to protect those dates by committing yourself to something, booking an active vacation through Great Freedom Adventures is always a phenomenal option. Offering fully supported three- to eight-day bike tours, walking tours and multi-sport vacations, all you must do is select your destination, and the rest will be handled for you.

It’s time you wrest your life away from the routine and stress that your workplace life has become. Taking a break is not a sign of laziness or weakness – it is an acknowledgement of human limitations and a desire to live a happy, balanced life. There’s a time to work, and there’s a time to rest.

Never forget about that pause button.

Jon Ignatowski

When Jon isn’t traveling or playing guitar in his band, he guides for Great Freedom Adventures