We’ve talked about the effects of stress on health and we’ve even talked about how mild stress channeled effectively can increase productivity. I’ve shared a few times what a huge relief a vacation is to the overall stress of especially work life.

Study after study has shown that Americans are working harder and vacationing less. With the techno world we have, it is a common sight to see people “on vacation” working their tails off while sitting in some obscenely restful place like Belize. I admit that I have tried to work while on vacation. I start out with good, or wrong, intentions of working while I am gone. This is mainly due to some pumped up feeling of self importance that has me believing that if I don’t keep blogging the life blood into our business, it will simply disappear and I will come back and have to start from zero again.

I read that most Americans are working so hard that they don’t even use the vacation time they have earned. We need to get a grip! Vacations are as necessary as anything we do for our health. From eating correctly to exercise, ignoring the “taking care of ourselves” part will come back to bite us and instead of spending 10 days on a tropical beach, we may find ourselves spending that time recovering from a heart attack.

Vacation is the chicken soup for the working soul. I know when I started my business that one of my major concerns was that I wouldn’t be able to take time off to rejuvenate from the long hours I was working. Realistically I know that most small business owners and especially sole proprietorships have that same concern. I won’t pretend to know how it will work in your business, but there are at least 100 different ways to structure your business to make the time off possible. If you can’t see any, write and let me help. It’s not my job, but it would certainly be my pleasure to help a fellow businessman figure out how to walk away for a week without worrying.

Bottom line. While insurance applications don’t ask about your vacation habits, the effects of not taking a vacation will show up somewhere. High blood pressure is a very common effect of not taking care of yourself. Stress can lead to depression or anxiety disorders. Do yourself a favor and use every day of vacation that is coming to you. If you’re self employed, take every day of vacation you need. Start small. Take a week. Make it your goal to vacation twice a year for a week. Then make it a goal to vacation twice a year for 10 days. You need it.

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