Americans are known for working hard, but many of us work so hard we’ve forgotten how to relax. In 2013, 42 percent of Americans didn’t take all the vacation days they had earned, according to the American Travel Association’s Project Time Off report. In 2015, this number rose to 55 percent. On average, workers only took 16.2 days of vacation, down from an average of 20 days in 1993. Business owners get even less vacation time, with 49 percent planning to take fewer than three days off during the holiday season in 2016, and 70 percent working on Thanksgiving. But taking time off is essential to maintain good health, avoid burnout and even to perform well on the job. If you’re a workaholic, here are four steps you can take to make sure you get in some time for regular rest and relaxation.
Schedule Off Days
What doesn’t get scheduled doesn’t get done — a principle that also applies to vacation time. One of the biggest keys to getting away from work is committing to taking time off and actually scheduling down time.
Scheduling down time can include taking mini-breaks during the day, such as standing up to stretch every hour. It can include scheduling time each evening to watch TV or read a book. It can include making a commitment not to work on Saturdays or Sundays. And it can include scheduling a vacation for a week or two each year. Spending a week at the beach with a YETI cooler filled with your favorite beverage can help you get your mind off work and de-stress so that you come back to work relaxed and refreshed.
Stay on a Regular Sleep Schedule
Scheduling down time should include getting enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults should get at least 7 hours of sleep, with 7 to 9 hours of sleep recommended for younger adults aged 18 to 25, 7 to 8 hours for adults 26 to 64, and 7 to 9 for adults 65 and over. But one in three adults don’t get enough sleep every night on a regular basis, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Make a commitment to getting enough sleep and take the necessary steps to follow through. If you have trouble falling asleep, you may need to take steps such as getting a more comfortable bed or seeing your healthcare provider. Going to bed at a regular time and establishing a routine to wind down before bed, such as reading a book, can make it easier for you to fall asleep on schedule.
Establish an Exercise Routine
Getting enough exercise is another important part of getting away from work. Just as most Americans don’t get enough sleep, most of us don’t get enough exercise, either. Health experts recommend that adults should get at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week, along with muscle-strengthening exercises such as weightlifting or push-ups twice a week. But four in five adults fall short of these numbers, according to the CDC. Make a commitment to fitting exercise into your schedule, and block out time to put your exercise plan into action.
Have a Hobby
Having a hobby that you enjoy can help motivate you to take a break from work and get some relaxation in. Hobbies can include physical activities such as running, playing basketball or practicing yoga. Hobbies can also include creative activities such as drawing or playing a musical instrument. Other hobbies include watching movies, reading books, playing video games or playing cards. Find one or more hobbies that you enjoy that you can use to get away from work and enjoy life.