An Overlooked Method for Coping With Toxic Work Stress
In a previous article, I wrote about the nervous breakdown which Walt Disney had in 1931. Walt had been working excessive hours for many years. He was under severe financial pressure and he was very frustrated with many of his artists, whom he felt were not working hard enough. The toxic work stress, combined with the problems of running a busy studio had driven Walt to physical and emotional exhaustion.
Based his doctors recommendation, he and his wife Lillian took a vacation that lasted between four and six weeks. This was the first vacation that Walt had taken in six years. Their previous vacation had been in 1925, when they had gone on their honeymoon.
Walt had been so busy in the previous six years that he had forgotten how much fun and relaxing vacations can be. He and Lillian had a wonderful time on their cross-country trip. From that time, Walt made it a practice to take regular vacations.
Vacations can be a powerful way to cope with toxic work stress. Getting away from the daily grind can help you gain perspective and remember what is truly important in life. However, most people in the United States do not take all of their vacation days. For example, in 2007, Americans failed to take 438 million vacation days, according to Harris Interactive Research Group. The median American worker took just one week off in 2008. Perhaps this is why so many workers are feeling burned out.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American works one month (160 hours) more today than in 1976. Because people are working more hours, vacations have become even more necessary to maintain physical and emotional health. Vacations give people the time to relax, reconnect with loved ones and enjoy time outdoors. How about you? Will you be taking all of your vacation days this year? If not, what seems to be stopping you?