I recently read a poll and of the nearly 1000 people who were asked, “Do you need a vacation after your vacation?” 87% of them said yes. It is clear that the commonly stated purpose for a vacation – rest and relaxation – might not be working very well!

While most of us take vacations and look forward to them, perhaps we aren’t getting from them what we most need. But, before I get to you and me, let’s look at how some other things in our world use a break:

Bears take a long winter break – they call it hibernation.
The tulip bulbs in my front flower bed have recently begun to peak through the soil. They spend ten months of the year seemingly dormant, preparing for their annual coming out party.
Deciduous trees lose their leaves in the fall and take a break, restoring their energy to grow and create new leaves in the spring.
Now – getting a bit closer to home –consider breaks that more closely resemble our vacations:

Kids (and their teachers) get a break from learning around the holidays and in the spring, and, in most cases, a longer summer break as well.
Sports teams take timeouts to consider where they are, decide what to do next and catch their breath. (I know, you hope your vacation is longer than a timeout!)
So, what do the results of the poll and all of these examples have to do with you and your vacation or the breaks you take?

Everything.

While there are many reasons to take a vacation – to be with family and friends, explore something new, get a suntan, or – most of us come back to R & R (rest and relaxation). All of these reasons are important, but the biggest benefit from any break (whether 2 minutes or 2 weeks) should be a third R – rejuvenation.

Bears, tulips and trees are resting over the winter; but more than that they are preparing to create their purpose in the following year. Bears couldn’t succeed, tulips wouldn’t flower and the trees won’t grow without their break to rejuvenate.

Kids and teachers return to school renewed and refreshed. The burnout from several week or months is erased and they are ready to go again! And while sports teams are getting hydrated and catching their breath during the time out they are also preparing for their future success – another part of rejuvenation.

Let me ask you a question.

If 87% of people surveyed say they need a vacation after their vacation, are they getting the rest and relaxation they sought?

More importantly, are they getting the rejuvenation that they need?

Even more importantly, are you?

How to Achieve Rejuvenation

It’s one thing to tell you that a goal for your break should be to rejuvenate. (If you hadn’t considered that before, now I hope you agree.) But it’s another thing to make that happen.

Here are five things you can do to make sure that every break – long or short – helps you refresh and rejuvenate for greater vitality, energy and success.

Make it a goal. Whether a 7-minute power nap or a 7-day cruise, recognize that rejuvenation is a goal. On the cruise that might mean one less late night or a bit more exercise. It might mean a bit less stress over the details of your “perfect vacation” and a bit more time for serendipity. When you make it a goal you will determine what you can do to make your break refreshing and energy creating.

Think of the total you. You are more than your body. Rejuvenation is about refreshing your minds and soul as well as your body. When you think of it this way, you recognize that there are different activities and approaches that refresh each part of you. Which leads to the next point . . .

Recognize what works for you. Maybe you need exercise, time at the spa, a manicure, or a stack of books. Maybe you need the sun or the energy that comes from good friends or a great meal. Maybe you need all of those things to refresh all of who you are. Take some time to think about those activities and situations that refresh and rejuvenate you. And remember that you don’t have to wait all year for these activities or try to cram them all into one vacation...

Don’t wait for once a year. Hibernation and dormancy are not the lessons we should take from the trees, tulips and bears. We aren’t wired the same way, and we don’t need to take weeks and months to rejuvenate. Look for ways to spend a weekend, afternoon or an evening with the express purpose of replenishing your mind, body and spirit.

Start now. The end point of the last point is that you don’t even have to wait at all. Consider what you can do right now to rejuvenate. A 7-minute power nap? 15 minute walk? Shooting some baskets? Knitting a sweater? Writing in your journal? Reading a great book? Talking with a positive or creative colleague? Make sure that you keep short breaks in your arsenal for creating greater mental, physical and spiritual energy and vitality in your life.

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Potential Pointer: Rest and relaxation are fine goals, but limiting. To get the most from any break you must do more than rest and relax, you must use those activities as a way to rejuvenate to live every day more fully, happily and successfully.

Author's Bio: 

Kevin Eikenberry is a leadership expert and the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group, a learning consulting company that helps Clients reach their potential through a variety of training, consulting and speaking services. You can learn more about him and a special offer on his newest book, Remarkable Leadership: Unleashing Your Leadership Potential One Skill at RemarkableLeadershipBook.com/bonuses.asp.