When in Denmark… a treatise about time off from work

It is hard not to notice, as an ex-pat, the sheer number of Danish holidays that occur this time of year.  Some of my clients notice that I do not really observe them;  They seem too indulgent somehow, so I go into the office anyway.     Recently I have had a couple of client report having some inner conflict about the number of vacation days that they get, or the fact that their doctor has advised them to take some time off.  Being American, I can relate.  Having worked over 40 hours per week, for my entire post-graduate life, I can easily understand the conflict about so many holidays.  I remember last summer, thinking that there was no way I could possibly survive the down time of a two week (in a row!) vacation. 

I have given it some thought, however.  After all, I DID survive, and even thrived on vacation.  It was one of the most relaxing times I have had in years.  It led me to do a little research on the effect of time-off on mental health.  There are many articles out there, if you care to take a gander.

One article I read published in the Journal of Happiness Studies by researchers Jessica de Bloom et al. (2013) showed a very clear positive association between well-being and vacation length.  They found that well-being actually peaked on the eighth day of vacation—an argument for vacations that last over a week.  Most of the good effects were short-lived, for subjects, though some of them lingered into their work lives.

My conclusion:  When in Denmark, do as the Danes do.  After all, it IS the happiest country in the world, so they must be doing something right.  If your doctor tells you to take time off, follow her advice.  Take a long vacation.  You’ve earned it.