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This time of year, a good conversation starter is to ask a group of friends or colleagues about their vacation plans and whether they are able to disconnect during their time off.  I am surprised at just how many people remain connected to the office during vacation and are generally unhappy about it.  While I am certainly guilty of this from time to time and there are periods when it is not possible to avoid it, I really try hard to change my behavior during summer vacation.

Why is it important to take vacation, besides the need for a break?  The reason is both mental and physical.  Through the Framingham Heart Study, researchers learned that men who take regular vacations are 32 percent less likely to die from heart attacks and 21 percent less likely to die early.  Women who go on vacation have a 50 percent lower risk of a heart attack.

Yet despite the growing evidence that vacations are good for the body and mind, many Americans only use a portion of their eligible paid time off.  Glassdoor recently found that 61 percent of workers stay connected or even complete work assignments while on vacation.

So as you prepare to take vacation, consider some alternative ways to approach your time off:

  • Plan and prepare.  Tie up loose ends.  Update colleagues on projects that may require their attention before you return.  Provide updates to your clients, too.  Do everything in your power to prevent surprises for your colleagues and clients while you are away.
  • Delegate.  Delegate to others in your office.  They are capable and will most likely want to help if you have formed good relationships with them.  It also leaves a positive statement that you trust them and know they can handle anything that comes their way.
  • Step away from your work email.  I know how addictive our iPhones and tablets are, but after the first day or two away, you really and truly won’t think about email.  Ensure your team and clients know that if they really need to connect with you, they can call you.  Most people will be respectful and won’t call unless it is absolutely necessary.  They will try to figure it out, which is good for them as well as good for you.
  • The world won’t crumble.  Your work, your colleagues and your clients will still be there when you return.  Once you return, you will quickly adjust and, in no time, will be back in the swing of things.  The only difference is that you will feel less stressed and more patient!

So go ahead – jump in the deep end of the pool.  Disconnect.  Let go.  Your health as well as your relationships both at home and at work will thank you for it.

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