Returning from Vacation Exhausted

Viktor Frankl, M.D.; Ph.D.

Returning from Vacation Exhausted

Recently, I talked to a couple that had returned from a two-week vacation. They were, in their words, “exhausted, tired, and looking forward to getting some rest.” Now, it seems to me that if couples — or, for that matter, families — return from vacation more exhausted than before they went on it, then they really did not go on a vacation.

The Meaning of Vacation

The word vacation, ultimately, comes from the Latin word vacare, which means “be empty.” Today, instead of setting aside a time in which to rest, to “empty out” all the human stressors and activities, many couples return from vacation “exhausted” and “tired.” Then they return to work, not having really rested from their busy lives in the first place.

The Mental and Physical Necessity of Vacation

Of course, in general, an active life promotes mental and physical health. However, a hyperactive life, one in which people are always on the move, one in which there is virtually no time for rest, promotes neither physical nor mental well-being and may even result in cardiac arrest. Thus, people “always on the go,” even on their vacations, need to find time for rest or, in psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s words, “for contemplation and meditation. To this end, man needs the courage to be lonely.”

The Torah or the Bible of the Jewish people teaches that the Creator wants his human creatures to rest, to vacare, so that they can be better reflect the imago Dei, the “image of God,” in their lives, being rejuvenated in body, mind and spirit, strengthened and ready to return to their daily activities.


Viktor E. Frankl, The Will of Meaning: Foundations and Applications of Logotherapy(New York, N.Y.: New American Library, 1969), p. 98.