Re-Creation Time

DPER Life Center


Tis’ the season, vacation time is here! However, I am often asked, “why do I come back from vacation feeling so worn out?” We are Americans and we are after the American dream but often that dream comes with a price.

Americans work more days on average and take less time off than any of the other industrialized nations which might also include the “developing” nations as well. According to’s annual Vacation Deprivation Survey, the average American employee is granted 13 paid days off per year. This is a paltry figure in comparison to England (24 vacation days per year) or workers in France (38 vacation days per year). Added to this is the fact that about 34 percent of Americans don’t use all of their vacation time, “giving back” an average of three days each year.

This means that we must learn to maximize our vacation time to regenerate ourselves. One of the reasons Americans do not use all of their vacation time is that as a culture they do not know the value of relaxing. Americans often feel that they need to “redeem” their off-time. If one is relaxing, they are lazy or worse, they are losing money. For many, vacation time is a different kind of business but it is often experienced as an experience, that when finished needs recovery time itself. Rather than taking a strategic vacation to re-energize ourselves, we often find ourselves working really hard to have fun.

The perception that relaxation equals laziness often leads to excessive job-related stress. According to the Chicago Tribune this attitude costs American businesses $344 billion a year in medical bills, absenteeism, turnover, and training. Workaholics are too often applauded for their efforts but the reality is that many people simply work so much because they feel lost without their work and use it to avoid dealing with other relational issues in their lives or to fill an inner void.

All of us need to take regular breaks to regenerate and to recreate in order to live a balanced life-style. Here are a couple of suggestions to keep yourself from wasting your down time. Caron Leader, a partner and psychotherapist at aha! Architects of Human Awareness ( offers these tips for maximizing time off.

Plan ahead. Take your vacation during a time of year conducive to a restful getaway. Leader says, “make sure you take your time off when you can truly relax.” Delegate your responsibilities to colleagues so you don’t feel pressured to constantly check in.

Get off the grid. Leave your gadgets such as computers and notebooks at home if possible, and don’t allow yourself access to them. If you must work, Leader suggests limiting it to 30 minutes or an hour every other day.

Expect the best. Leave your smartphone where you only check it once a day. Better yet, Leader recommends that you “leave your hotel number or other contact information where coworkers can reach you in case of an emergency.” “My motto in life is, ‘No news is good news,’” Leader goes on to suggest that you “Try to remember if something really needs your attention,someone will contact you.”

Remember, have fun but more importantly find a place and time to “re-create” yourself in peace and joy.


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