Health Watch -- Vacation Time!

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

Could taking a vacation make you better at your job?

In our workaholic culture, it's easy to overlook the benefits of taking some time off. We think we're impressing our bosses and making ourselves more valuable when we work instead of using our vacation time. But doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say we're actually doing our bosses and ourselves a favor when we take a break.

A vacation is more than just a time to rest and relax. It's essential for mental health and creativity. Dr. Ann Matt Maddrey, a UT Southwestern psychiatrist, says taking time off allows you to empty your mind from your normal routine, so you can make room for other things. Just like a battery, your brain needs to recharge. If you get so stressed out and busy that you don't take time to recharge, you'll run down and run out of energy.

And you don't have to spend a lot of money to take a revitalizing vacation. The point is to get away from the daily grind, be around different people and see and do different things. You can take an at-home vacation by thinking about your ideal vacation - the kinds of things you would most enjoy doing - and finding ways to have that experience in your hometown. Just relaxing at home can allow you to rest and recharge.

Dr. Maddrey says that at home or away, vacations can help you increase your creativity. You'll have new ideas when you return to work, and because you've recharged yourself, you'll do a better job. Don't let yourself believe that vacations are a waste of time.


June 2004