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Free time helps you thrive in life and career

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It's no wonder that most adults are overworked and overwhelmed, but the counterintuitive reality is that many are not taking all the free time they have earned.

According to Project: Free time

"After years of being asked to" do more with less, "workers are overworked, stressed and exhausted. The American work culture 24/7, which is always on, is taking a heavy toll. "Up to 429 million days of wasted vacations that undermine our personal, commercial and economic well-being … In short, taking time off is essential for a productive workforce, strong ties with family and friends, and a full life."

Taking time off will really help you be more productive and healthy in life and career.

Mindfulness is all rage

Mindfulness defined is the state of active attention and open to the present. Instead of numbing yourself about being exhausted, stressed and overworked, take a moment to listen and listen to your body to assess what you need in your life to thrive.

I often see busy professionals who are stuck in the never-ending routine of work and life and do not really allow themselves to consider what they need. Begin slowly with a daily 5-minute care record and ask yourself what is missing in your life. If you answer that you need more time or rest, that is a good indication that you are ready to spend a good time away from work.

Be the boss who sets a good example

If you supervise others in your work environment, understand that your behavior is an example to your colleagues. If you respect your vacation time, your coworkers will follow your example and take what you owe them without feeling guilty or worried. Lead by example and really disconnect during your time out.

Vacations should not simply mean a change of scenery to do your job in an alternative location. Focus on your life and disconnect from work.

My boss recently shared that his week off in an atypical time of the year would allow him to refresh, revitalize and avoid exhaustion. He returned focused and ready to go with a renewed sense of purpose. Their spontaneous vacations inspired others to take a break when they needed it, not just during the traditional holiday season. Breaking with tradition was a win-win for organizational culture.

It is not necessary to plan an exotic trip to enjoy the holidays. The concept of the holiday stay can be equally revitalizing or allow you to catch up at home to take care of the domestic work that stresses you on weekends. Spring cleaning or purging in the closet can be very rewarding when you do not feel stressed about doing it during the limited weekend.

If you do not have the financial resources to travel, consider shorter day trips. Contact the Visitors Office of your community for ideas on how to better understand your city, state or region. You do not have to travel far to escape, try something new and enjoy the benefits of free time.

A thinner waist and a healthier heart with time away from work

While taking a break from work is to relax, what you may not know is that those who spend more time engaging in pleasurable recreational activities, including vacation time, have a healthier physique. The University of Pittsburgh conducted a study that showed that people who had more downtime at work had a lower body mass index and a healthier waist circumference, two key predictors of overall good health.

A large number of studies have highlighted the potential cardiovascular health benefits of taking a vacation, including: reducing the risk of heart disease, lowering blood pressure, decreasing depression, and reducing stress.

Improve your productivity by taking your TDF

Ernst & Young conducted an internal study of its employees and found that for every 10 additional hours of vacation the employees took, their performance ratings at the end of the year improved by 8 percent, and frequent vacationers were also significantly less likely to leave the firm.

Do something to recharge regularly

Non-US work cultures encourage taking days of well-being in time away from work to focus on health and well-being. Americans must catch up with this proactive investment in our health. From spa visits to a walk in the woods, or just free time to enjoy your favorite non-work related reading, do something just for yourself on a regular basis and get the wellness rewards.

I schedule regular massages or reflexology sessions to keep my body aligned and relaxed and I see this as an essential part of my wellness routine. A non-weekend rest day from time to time can also do wonders to help my body rest and revitalize.

Sleep better with leisure time

The rejuvenating effects of time away from work can have a long-term impact on your well-being, such as less headaches and pains bodily, according to a study by the University of Vienna. In addition, vacations can help sleep disruption habits, such as checking your smartphone before bedtime. Waiting time helps you restart at multiple levels to give your body what it needs to rest, relax and restart strenuous work on a regular basis.

A Nielsen poll showed that those who take vacations regularly report that romance is alive in their relationship. What you may not know is that sex has many health benefits, such as helping to defend your body from germs, viruses and other intruders, according to researchers at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania.

Do you ever feel like you are so busy working that you forget what excites you and makes you feel satisfied? Take a PTO day to dream big and consider what you need and want in your life and career. The specific downtime to consider the possibilities will allow you to appreciate what you have and also plan for what you want in the future. Take time to honor your dreams and create an action plan to make them come true

Instead of being a work martyr, look ahead and consider how you use your precious PTO over the next year . Block the days alone for wellness breaks in addition to longer periods of time for vacations on your calendar now. Do not become a holiday loser by leaving this well-earned benefit unused in a given work year. Paid time off has tremendous value and was implemented to help you live a healthier life. It is up to you to take advantage of this resource and honor yourself in the process.

Caroline Dowd-Higgins wrote the book, "This is not the career I ordered" now in the second edition, and maintains the career reinvention blog of the same name. She is Executive Director of Professional and Professional Development at the Alumni Association of the University of Indiana and contributes to Ellevate Network, CNN Money and the British online magazine – The Rouse. She is the host of the online series, Thrive! on the empowerment of women's careers and lives and presents the international podcast series Your Working Life : check out iTunes. Follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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