Give me a break

Harvard economics professor Juliet Schor, author of “The Overworked American,” observes an alarming trend in the United States.

She once said, “We need to articulate a vision that is oriented toward a higher quality of life — employment security and control over work and leisure time.”

Travel industry statistics show a decrease in the number of days of the average vacation, from 11 days to six. Everyone seems busier and business owners typically find it more difficult to break away, even for a short vacation.

Psychologist Joseph Bendo, of Keogh Bendo & Associates, works with patients to help them understand the importance of getting away and leaving the business behind.

Too many people don’t relax enough on their vacations, or they leave their office for a vacation and take their work with them,” Bendo says. “This increases stress. It causes wear and tear on their bodies and they exhaust themselves because they can’t let go.”

Bendo stresses with patients that it is taboo while on vacation to have any connection with work, whether it’s simply checking voice mail or something more involved. He practices what he preaches.

“Most things that might occur in the few days you’re gone aren’t really emergencies,” Bendo says. “But it’s really a challenge for some people to look at it that way. They must say to themselves, ‘What’s the difference if I’m not available?’ No one can really come up with a significant reason or risk.

“Reasonable people could wait a reasonable amount of time to deal with somebody. And usually those quick, sudden things don’t work out anyway, so what’s the difference?”

Craig Chima, president of Chima Travel Bureau, has planned vacations since 1979. He also assists stressed-out business owners in planning true getaways and shares his thoughts on rest and relaxation.

Chima suggests a minimum of six days at the vacation destination to ensure an authentic breather. To facilitate a mental break, he urges those most in need of a stress-breaker to take a vacation to a unique, faraway destination.

“In my position, meeting with other executives and tailoring to their travel needs, I’ve found that the farther away you go, the more relaxing your time will be,” Chima says. “If you go to Florida, you’re not that far removed from Ohio. It’s just the mindset. If you’re going to Alaska, Hawaii or Europe, that’s a truly unique destination. That will keep your attention during the course of time.

“It’s something truly different and it’s the best way to forget about the work at home.”

Spas and all-inclusive resorts are gaining popularity and create a barrier to the outside world.

“Five years ago, very few people knew what the all-inclusive concept was, but 85 percent know what it is today,” Chima says. “It’s almost like your own private compound and you know you’re being catered to from the time you wake up until you go to sleep.”

Taking a typical cruise could be a mistake for anyone wishing to get away from it all. Travelers could find themselves aboard a ship with 3,000 to 5,000 other people with structured dining times and activities. Chima suggests a smaller, niche cruise.

“These 200- to 300-person cruise liners are admittedly more expensive than a mass-market cruise, but the focus is on relaxation and catering to you,” Chima says. “There are no structured activities and you go do what you want, when you want.”

To help travelers reduce stress levels upon returning home, Chima advises returning home on Saturday.

“It gives you a day to recuperate and do your laundry. You can even go into the office on Sunday for a few hours and go through your mail. It’s no fun coming home with the idea that it’s 10 p.m. and you’ve got to be at work at 7:30 the next morning.” How to reach: Chima Travel Bureau, (330) 867-4770; Keogh Bendo & Associates, (330) 633-7083.