Why your post-grad life needs spring break

It's about that time of year again- the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport is full of college students headed south for spring break. It's midway through the semester- time to press the pause button on normal responsibilities and unplug for a week. 

But what happens after college? Unless your job has built-in breaks (maybe you work in education), it can be difficult to take time off early in your career. A recent study showed that almost 60% of millennials feel shame when they take a vacation. What's worse, millennials themselves admit they are the ones doing the shaming! The study also found that almost half of surveyed workers felt the need to justify using their vacation days to their boss- even though they had earned them.

If you do find yourself on spring break, you're likely connected to work anyway. Research is showing that millennials are the most likely group to continue working on vacation, and they are returning to work feeling less productive. Maybe it's a fear of being perceived as unreachable (read: unreliable) by the boss and coworkers. Or perhaps young people aren't great at work-life balance after all.

Just because you're not in college anymore doesn't mean you don't need a spring break. In fact, here are a few reasons that you do:

1. You will be a better employee if you go on spring break. You'll be more productive and more creative after a vacation if you truly disconnect. 35% of millennials say they work every day on vacation- one could argue it's not actually a vacation if you're working every day. Consider this: most employers would probably prefer their workers to return with increased productivity and creativity, at the expense of having regular contact with them while they're away.

2. The process of planning a trip is very enjoyable. Some research has shown that the planning stage is even more pleasurable than the trip itself. Spring break trips are especially alluring to those of us in the North- it's cold almost 6 months out of the year! If you're feeling stressed at work and gloomy because of the dreary weather, consider what it might feel like to plan the details of a beach vacation. Just thinking about being in the warm sunshine can do wonders for your mood.

3. Sunshine, glorious sunshine! After months of mostly gray skies and cold temperatures, your mind and body are craving the warmth of the sun. Research shows that the brain produces more serotonin (a "feel good" chemical) when you're in the sunshine. A boost in serotonin can make you feel happier and less anxious.


Perhaps just thinking about taking a vacation is anxiety-producing for you. Pay attention to those feelings. What about it is leading you to feel this way? Do you have perfectionistic tendencies that are getting in the way of taking time away? Maybe you're completely overwhelmed with work, and going away just doesn't feel feasible. Or maybe you do feel like you could get away, but financial stressors are making that difficult.

If anxiety is getting in the way of your life, know that help is available. Counseling can help you feel more calm and less overwhelmed. If you're in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area and ready to take the next step, schedule an appointment today.