Vacation! According to reports from Expedia dot com, the average American only takes about 12 vacation days per year. Compared to the rest of the world, this is an extremely slim amount of time for rest and relaxation. In countries such as Germany, France, and Great Britain – the national average of paid vacation time is a whopping 30 days per year. And most other European countries average between 25 and 28 days of vacation per year.
Additionally, for many Americans – depending on their line of work an actual vacation is nothing but a mere and distant dream. This is especially true for contractual workers and blue-collar workers whose jobs come with little benefits and are often dependant upon the cooperation of Mother Nature.
On the flip side, Americans rated number one for the country that calls in sick to work the most. In fact, Forbes magazine blames numerous sick days as being one of the major downfalls of American production. Most people admittedly, call in sick, not because they have the flu or a fever, but because they are tired and stressed and feel that they need a break from the routines of work.
Do you Take Enough Vacation Time?
According to an article in Information Week Magazine, less than half of the American workforce uses all of their vacation time. And when they do take vacation time, few of them actually turn off their technological devices and actually spend the time doing nothing work related at all. Obviously, the economic down slump and the downsizing of corporate America are among two of the reasons that people don’t take enough vacation. More pressure is being put on fewer employees to get production complete and people are afraid that utilizing their vacation time would result in poor performance reports. Yet, the reality according to experts in the mental health field is that vacation time is an important part of the employee-employer relationship and that NOT taking vacation can actually minimize your productivity in the workplace.
Some of them most basic symptoms that you are in dire need of a vacation come in the form of bodily ailments? If you experience symptoms such as irritability, fatigue, insomnia, inability to concentrate, memory loss, lack of sleep, eye strain, high blood pressure, hair loss, digestive problems, skin problems and even depression – the problem could be that you aren’t giving your body and mind enough downtime and are excreting too many stress hormones caused by overwork and over use of the body and mind. According to WebMD, one of the biggest risks to our health and mental wellbeing is stress, and 78% of the population directly link stress to their job.
In other words, taking a hiatus – whether for a week or a weekend, could not only save your life but could actually make you a better employee in the long run.
Time management experts recommend that employees take advantage of their sick time and that they utilize all the hours given to them. They also recommend that longer vacations as opposed to taking just a day or two here and there throughout the year – offer more relaxation and health benefits. If you take a vacation, you should also be able to put up the metaphorical “Do not Disturb” sign and turn off all access to office email, texts, and correspondence. Otherwise, the stressors from your work life will filter into your vacation time.
While staycations are all the rage these days, many experts believe that actually relocating is the best way to catch your breath and gain some real relaxation. When people take vacation days at home they are still mentally struggling with all the things that they feel they should be doing or taking care of. When you go away from your home and your normal surroundings, you are able to disconnect from day to day stresses and will be able to feel the physiological advantages of taking a real vacation. Slowly but surely stress hormones will return to normal. The trick of course is making sure that your vacation is actually a vacation – away from the day-to-day routine of your life.
According to author Robert Kriegel who wrote “How to Succeed without Working So Damn Hard,” performed a vacation deprivation study which indicated that people who do not take advantage of time off are actually less productive than their globe trotting counterparts. This was partly due to burn out from work, and from stress hormones that stymie the creative process in the brain and ruin long and short-term memory. Additionally, people who didn’t take enough vacation were often seen as moody and insensitive and reported more unhappiness among their personal relationships than those who took regular vacation time.
The bottom line is that you deserve a break. Most of the world sees the importance of giving employees time off from work, and reaps the benefits by having employees who feel well rested, and rate well in the productivity department as a result. Your life should not be all work and no play. Any guilt associated with taking vacation time should be erased from your mind so that you can learn how to get some R&R several times per year.
Whether you take extended weekends, a two-week beach vacation or a month long reprieve from the every day stress of working life, studies from all facets of research indicate one singular conclusion. Vacations are good for you. Vacations are an essential part of living a healthy, happy, and balanced life – and can be extremely important in your long-term health and wellbeing.