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I’m just about to have a few days off … I’m sure you’re scratching your head and asking, “What does this have to do with me?” Well, I’ll tell you …

Heart written in sand near Sanctuary Christian Counseling in Shippensburg, PA

Research has shown that getting away from your job - from your routine - actually makes you more productive when you return. People who take a break tend to have fewer health concerns like cardiovascular disease or blood pressure issues, according to the Mind Body Center at the University of Pittsburgh. In addition, it seems that a vacation, or even just a few days away, can contribute to an elevated mood – to less depression and more positive emotions.

Without the pressure to keep performing, people actually become more creative, says Robert Kreigel, the author of How to Succeed in Business without Working So Damn Hard. Time away breeds time to think, even just to be, all of which increases thinking outside the box and being innovative. It seems to refresh your brain cells to be away for a while.

An aptly-named Vacation Deprivation Study done by Expedia in 2016 found that many employed adults fail to take all the vacation days to which they are entitled. It seems many of them feel guilty and worry about vacationing – that their employer will view this negatively, or that they will somehow lose out by taking a break. Yet increased vacation time continues to be a top-rated perk by job seekers.

As a young therapist, I fit into this category. I believe I worked full-time in the field for about five years before taking my first vacation. By the time that one rolled around, I was fried, and knew I needed to plan better the next time. There’s something about being a therapist, and holding sacred many people’s hearts and struggles, that makes it hard to function if you don’t care for yourself. Taking breaks is part of that caring.

Many others have written eloquently about the need for self-care among therapists, and I don’t need to add my endorsement here. Suffice to say that refreshment in therapy is necessary (if you are a mental health professional, check out my friend Ili's for great support in this).

HOWEVER, it is just as vital for you, too, to get away. To break with routine. To stop and smell the cinnamon buns. No matter what you do, and no matter how you do it, statistically, you will do it much better if you take some time for you.

I challenge you! It doesn’t have to be expensive. It doesn’t have to be long. It doesn’t have to be a month-long trip to Europe! Get away from your routine. Enjoy life. Take a breather. Get reFRESHed.

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