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Disconnecting to Connect? Oh, Yeah.

Here at InteraWorks, we define productivity as “connecting your time to what matters most.” Read on and discover how disconnecting can also help us to connect to what matters most.

Let’s begin with a look at some statistics on disconnecting:

  • 55% of Americans did not use all of their vacation time in 2015

(Source: GfK Public Affairs and Corporate Communications)

  • 430 million days of unused paid vacation per year

(Source: U.S. Travel Association)

  • Employees who take 10 or less days of vacation time are less likely to have received a raise or bonus

(Source: GfK Public Affairs and Corporate Communications)

  • For every 10 vacation hours an employee takes, annual performance review scores increase 8%

(Source: Study by audit firm EY)

  • Men who don’t take vacations are 30 percent more likely to have heart attacks than those who do. For women, it’s 50 percent.

(Source: Washington Post)

Disconnect to Connect with your creativity

When was the last time you had a great idea, a true inspiration? When was the last time you took a real vacation? It might surprise you to learn that these two things are actually connected. When we truly disconnect and can empty our minds of the incessant chatter that comes with a busy westernized life, we gain access to our most creative and strategic resources. Seemingly random and disconnected elements of our lives can suddenly come together in the most surprising ways.

Lin-Manuel Miranda credits his vacation for the inspiration behind his award-winning smash hit Hamilton. He was quoted in The Huffington Post as saying, “The moment my brain got a moment’s rest, Hamilton walked into it.”

Ok – so maybe you aren’t a Tony-Award-winning playwright, but you are a creative, imaginative human being. Perhaps your most creative, innovative ideas are lurking just beneath that ever-present to-do list.

Disconnect to Connect with your loved ones

Another benefit of disconnecting from work and taking a vacation is it allows us to connect with friends and family. Away from the distractions and responsibilities of home, we can relax; often remembering and discovering (or rediscovering) what that makes our relationships special.

My husband and I love hiking and taking long-distance walks – most recently a 10-day hike through the Highlands of Scotland. During long hours of contemplative walking side by side with my husband, I remembered how much I admire him for his quiet and steadfast leadership. It is one of a few places where my husband is truly himself — outdoors, long trail ahead, backpack on his back, leading the way.

On another trip, we walked with my daughter just after she graduated high school. I remember stopping atop the crest of a hill one beautiful morning in the middle of Spain and taking an hour to weave fresh wildflowers into her hair. My daughter and I have always enjoyed a close relationship, but it’s unlikely I would have spent that precious hour with her had we been home in our normal routines. Perhaps your relationships could use a little breath of fresh air as well?

Disconnect to Connect with yourself

How about connecting with a new aspect of yourself? When we disconnect from the patterns of our daily lives, we create more neural connections in our brains. Traveling to new locations – where food, language, sights, sounds, smells and routines are all different – causes our brains to fire up! Our habituated patterns are broken up, disrupting our little brain ruts (pun intended), and activating new connections; all of which can increase our creativity.

Disconnect to Connect with your health and wellbeing

Day to day stress adds up over time. Our bodies react to stress by taking a defensive posture which increases stress hormones and impacts our immune system’s function. How many “hard–chargers” do you know who have chronic health conditions? A recent study demonstrated that a “relaxing vacation allows our body to get out of that defensive posture and reduce stress, which in turn affects the state of cells that are involved in our immune system.” (Dr. Eric Schadt, Senior Author).

Disconnect to Connect with your happiness

With summer coming on strong, many of us are in vacation planning mode. This act alone is a good thing according to The U.S. Travel Association’s Project Time Off – a leading a national movement aimed at increasing awareness about the benefits of taking a break. Project Time Off states “research proves that workers who take time to plan how they will use their vacation time in the year ahead are happier than those who do not. They are happier with their health and well-being, their financial situation, their marriage, and even their overall mood. Research also shows that simply having something to look forward to – like a vacation – improves your happiness.”

Creativity, Relationships, Health and Well-being, Happiness and most importantly YOU are a few great reasons why disconnecting might be a great plan. Download Project Time Off’s “How to Plan Your Time Off and Boost Your Happiness” and get started on connecting your time to what matters most!

~Anne McGhee-Stinson
Director of Practice

If the links do not work, please copy and paste the following into your web browser:https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-08/tmsh-sbr082916.php