The Importance of Down Time

Though he is a best-selling author and a fabulously successful businessman, Jimmy Buffett will always be known for his music celebrating the “island escapism” lifestyle, including hits like “Margaritaville” and “Come Monday.”

License to Chill

By Eric Wright

Though he is a best-selling author and a fabulously successful businessman, Jimmy Buffett will always be known for his music celebrating the “island escapism” lifestyle, including hits like “Margaritaville” and “Come Monday.” “License to Chill” is his only album to reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a “parrot head,” like the famous financial wizard who shares the same last name but is unrelated, Warren Buffett, his music conjures up for all of us images of tropical beaches and cool exotic drinks. Jimmy is a brilliant marketer, selling the same thing Debbie Harvey, CEO of Ron Jon’s, once told me they market. “We don’t sell T-shirts or surfboards,” she said. “We sell an aspirational lifestyle.”

It begs the question: Why does a song or a T-shirt have that effect on us and make us long for white sand beaches, the deck of a cruise ship or one of Central Florida’s signature resorts or attractions? It’s because there are times when all of us need to unstring the bow, turn off the cellphone and chill out!


The Science of Relaxing

Much like the connection a good night’s sleep has to a productive day or vigorous exercise has to relieving stress, vacations are something essential to our psycho-social wellbeing.

In a 2009 study, Canadian researchers Joudrey and Wallace reported taking vacations helped to buffer the job stress among a sample of almost 900 lawyers. Which is great, as job-related stress costs American businesses $344 billion a year in medical bills, absenteeism, turnover, and training, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The benefits of vacations extend to family relationships as well. An international group of researchers led by Purdue University’s Xinran Lehto concluded that family vacations contribute positively to family bonding, communication and solidarity. Vacations promote what is called the “crescive bond” (that’s academic jargon for, a “shared experience”) by fostering growing and enduring connections. Though family vacations can have their own share of stress, just ask Clark Griswold, the benefits outweigh the risks, even in families that are not particularly close, according to Lehto.

Whatcha Waiting For?

If the benefits are so obvious and we have the best options in the world for “staycations,” why don’t we do it? Caron Leader, a psychotherapist, observed, “The main reason Americans do not use all of our vacation time is that we as a culture do not value downtime or relaxing. There is a perception that if one is relaxing, they are lazy.”

So…Don’t feel guilty because you’re going on vacation. The fact of the matter is you’ll come back more focused, more refreshed and in all likelihood, more creative.

But if you’re so inclined, don’t feel guilty when you’re gone if you check email or if you don’t. Some people feel that the worst part of a vacation is coming back to hundreds or thousands of emails. If you’re one of those people (and you know who you are), then give yourself a small portion of each day to peek at your laptop.

Finally, don’t worry, the world will get along without you. If you aren’t packing or planning yet, take a lesson from the last funeral or retirement party you attended – the world will keep rotating, even while you’re chilling out.

This article appears in the August 2015 issue of i4 Business.
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About the author

Eric Wright

Eric Wright is an innovative leader, dynamic speaker and published author. He turns complex principles into simple and practical life applications. As President of Publishing at SCB Marketing, Eric oversees the production of four business and lifestyle journals, along with numerous specialty publications. Eric is co-author of Dogs Don't Bark at Parked Cars. www.dogsdontbark.com

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