Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Opinion

September 24, 2013

Tidbits: Vacation, gotta get away

CROSSVILLE — I'm back at work on Monday morning, scrambling to write my weekly column before deadline. I usually try to get these written the week before so that I don't set myself up for a Monday morning meltdown.

But that didn't happen this week. I took a few days off, with grand plans of home organization, crafting and rest. Writing my column wasn't on my agenda until this morning. Now, as I sit here staring at a stack of obituaries to be typed and a boatload of email to sort through, as well as catching up on correspondence I missed last week, I'm thinking I need another vacation if for no other reason than to delay doing all this work that was waiting for me.

I don't feel particularly refreshed or revitalized after my time away. I probably over-scheduled my time off. It's so easy to plan to do 200 things during a vacation or staycation that you never actually get around to the rest and relaxation part of things. Add to that the fact many people continue to do work-related tasks while they're on vacation and it's easy to see why stress is such a significant health factor in our lives.

It's not just me. It's the entire county that's not taking time to rest and rejuvenate from the wear and tear of the daily grind. The typical worker in the United States gets two or three weeks of vacation each year. And even then, only a smidgen over half of U.S. workers actually use all their allotted vacation days, with CNN reporting only 57 percent will use all their time. That compares to 89 percent of workers in France using all their vacation time.

But compare the U.S. to Germany, where the average worker has six weeks of vacation time, and national holidays. The law there, as in many other nations, requires employers to offer four or more weeks of paid vacation to workers. Finland, Brazil and France guarantee six weeks each year.

Six weeks? Wow. I could get a lot of projects finished. Or, I could finally take that cross-country road trip I dreamed of in college. Or I could just lay about the house and take short trips here and there, visiting friends and family across the southeast.

But I wouldn't. I, like many of my workaholic, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps American co-workers (and all the other Type A personalities out there) can't imagine being away from our homes away from home that much during a year, and never more than a week at a time. I sometimes joke that I thrive on stress and deadlines. And I do, to a point.

But that stress that builds up eats away at us, lowering resistance to illness and increasing stress on our arteries and heart. Psychology Today tells us that chronic stress, either on the job or in personal lives, affects sleep, good digestion, even altering the genetic material of our cells. It leads to depression and feelings of anxiousness and makes Heather an irritable person and it affects memory. I must be stressed out because I've gotten up from my desk three times to go get something and, halfway through my task, forgotten what I was doing. I don't know if it's due to stress or if I'm just getting distracted by something shiny and sparkling.

Vacations are vital in breaking that stress cycle and helping workers recharge their batteries, refill their gas tanks and get ready to keep on moving. Also helpful are hobbies and leisure pursuits. I have a bevy of hobbies, and I try to keep that in perspective so that my hobbies don't become just another source of stress in my life. But vacations, that downtime away from the hustle and bustle are trouble for me.

Think of the Griswold family vacation in National Lampoon's Vacation. Poor Clark just wanted to have the perfect road trip to take his wife and kids to Walley World theme park. From a last minute car switch, lost luggage, getting lost, and even the death of dear Aunt Edna, the road trip is one disaster after another, capped by arriving to find the theme park is closed for repairs.

Sound familiar? I've had a few vacations where the stress of getting somewhere almost made the whole trip a bust, but a little rearranging, being flexible and having faith it would all work out in the end led to some wonderful memories. And that helped me be a better worker when I returned to the office.

The next time you've got some days off, maximize that time to do things that you enjoy. Rest and recharge your mind and you'll be ready to take the world by storm when that inevitable Monday morning return rolls around.

• • •

Heather Mullinix is assistant editor of the Crossville Chronicle. Her column is published on Tuesdays. She may be reached at hmullinix@crossville-chronicle.com.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Lion and the Lamb: A promised land?

    Back in biblical times there was a group of people who believed that God had promised them a segment of land on this planet that would be theirs forever. Who could have known back then that this ancient promise and territorial justification would be used by their descendants today to claim the same segment of land?

    July 29, 2014

  • We the People: Bring back the American dream

    Our economy continues to expand. The stock market is at record levels, yet many ask why so many of us are struggling?  Barely half of us believe the American dream is attainable.

    July 29, 2014

  • Tidbits: Taking a low-tech break

    Feeling increasingly strangled by my electronic leash, with phone, text messages, email, social media and a variety of other forms of communication always at my side, I took the weekend off.

    July 28, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Governing before and after mass corruption

    Laws in America were originally written simply. Every citizen could read them quickly and understand their meaning. The founders wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Northwest Ordinance and the Constitution of the United States, none of which was longer than 4,500 words.

    July 28, 2014

  • We the People: The last dance

    Charlie Hayden’s last recording session with his early partner, Keith Jarrett, was in 2007.  The songs they played were mostly melancholy.  The second album coming from that session includes Weil’s “My Ship” and Porter’s “Every Time We Say Goodbye.” The dark ballad “Goodbye,” by Gordon Jenkins, was the final track.

    July 22, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Living in a pressure cooker

    The Gaza Strip, a small Palestinian territory about the size of Washington, D.C., has been in the news almost every day.  Its key location at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea has attracted a number of occupying powers over the years, and it has  been at the center of much Middle East history.

    July 22, 2014

  • Tidbits: The excitement of election day

    On March 12, 1996, there were 427,183 votes cast in the presidential primary election. Among those votes was mine, the first vote I cast in an election, just two days after my 18th birthday.

    July 21, 2014

  • Raising the minimum wage

    My first job from which FICA was withheld was a minimum wage job, seventy-five cents an hour. And yes, even then no one could live on that little money. However, I was a high schooler living at home where my father provided room and board. The job gave me pocket money to buy gasoline, to take my girlfriend out for movies and burgers, and to buy tickets for baseball games.

    July 21, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Children on the move

    The news this past week has focused on the humanitarian crisis developing on our southern border. Thousands of unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras seeking to escape from the violence, human trafficking and extreme poverty in their countries have been entering the United States.

    July 15, 2014

  • We the People: Memo to gun rights groups

    The recent incident in California helps us understand why we cannot rely on mental health services alone to solve the problem of gun violence.

    July 15, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Parade
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice
Graduation 2014