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Blog Insight & Commentary

All the Reasons You Need to Unplug From Work This Holiday Season

Take time off during the holidays, even if work awaits

Enjoying the holidays yet?

If you’re a woman, you might have found a bit of holiday joy this season, perhaps as you cuddled on the couch with your loved ones to watch a movie or sang along to your favorite holiday classics on your way to work. But it’s also likely that you’re completely stressed out.

At home, it often falls on us women to create all that holiday magic. So not only are we supposed to wrap up that major end-of-year project at work, we’re also shopping and cooking and baking and decorating and keeping track of our kids’ ever-expanding wish lists.

At InHerSight, we polled 2,500 women to learn their holiday stress levels, and what we found is, sadly, not surprising.

More than half  55 percent — said they find it somewhat or very difficult to unplug from work during the holidays. Three-quarters said work stress increases around the holidays. In fact, work is the second highest source of holiday stress for women — second only to money.

But mapping out time away from the job in December is easier said than done. Let’s face it, work doesn’t stop just because Santa is coming to town.

So, as I have navigated through my own hectic holiday season, I’ve started listing the compelling reasons why I shouldn’t feel neglectful by taking a break from work and spending some downtime with my own family, including my young daughter.

I’ll admit that it’s proving harder than I expected. But, if you dive deeper than your daily schedule, you’ll find the data you need to convince yourself that now is the time to unplug from technology, catch up on sleep, spend time with your family, be bored and, maybe, if you can swing it, even take a trip far away from home.

Here are 5 reasons you should unplug this holiday season.

1. It will help you stay alive.

Not to be a real Debbie Downer, but here’s a startling fact that might encourage you to use up your vacation days this year. People who do not take vacations have a 21 percent higher risk of death from all causes. Workers who forgo vacations often are making other unhealthy lifestyle choices, including working long hours, not getting enough sleep, eating poorly and, generally, living a stressful life. Taking those vacation days — even if you just stay at home and watch Netflix for a week — isn’t a lazy decision. It’s a smart one.

2. You’ll be better at work.

Remember when you responded to the CEO’s email reply-all or scheduled that all-important meeting, but never set aside a conference room? You might think you’re doing a good job because you’ve been chained to your desk for days, but research shows that taking a break will make you more productive.

Cutting out from work for a bit, according to Sabine Sonnentag, a professor of organizational psychology at the University of Mannheim in Germany, helps make us more resilient, more productive and more engaged in work. In fact, when they returned from vacation, 64 percent of people said they were “refreshed and excited” to get back to their job. When is the last time you felt that way?

3. You’ll increase your chances of getting a raise.

I’m going to take a wild guess that your paycheck is one reason why you’re working so hard — and forgoing that time off. As it turns out, you could boost your pay if you simply took a break.

A study from the U.S. Travel Association found that people who take 10 or less days of vacation are less likely to have received a raise or bonus in the last three years than those who took 11 days or more.

4. You might get your next big game-changing idea.

Have you been pondering possible solutions for a big problem at work for too long? Maybe the real problem is that you haven’t gotten out of your office.

Studies that explore brain imaging find that when we’re bored, we’re more likely to come up with innovative and groundbreaking ideas. In other words, you may be more likely to come up with that creative solution if you simply stop thinking about work and let your mind wander as you stare at the lights on the Christmas tree or curl up with a hot chocolate and a good book.

5. Or your next 5 big ideas.

Pulling out of your day-to-day life and traveling or taking part in a new experience, studies show, can bolster our creativity. In fact, one study found that hikers who spent four days out in nature and disconnected from their electronic devices scored 50 percent better on a creativity test. Just interacting with nature, said the researcher, has measurable benefits to creative problem solving.

So, during this holiday season, commit to taking some time off.

Make some cookies with your kids — and eat them.

Get a book for yourself — and read it.

Take a deep breath — and enjoy time with family and friends during the holidays.

And, who knows, after some time away, cooped up with your loved ones, you may just be overjoyed that you have a job to go back once the holidays are over.

By Ursula Mead

Ursula Mead is the founder and CEO of InHerSight. This article was originally published on BizWomen.

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