EVIDENCE SHOWS THAT VACATIONS ARE ESSENTIAL TO MENTAL AND PHYSICAL HEALTH, YET AMERICANS ARE RELUCTANT TO TAKE TIME OFF.
I hope you’re in the mood for a cruise. A very long cruise. Because we have 577,212,000 vacation days to use up.
That number reflects how much paid time off Americans collectively abandoned last year, according to an Expedia study. Expedia has been tracking work-life balance issues for 13 years, looking at the difference in vacation habits and attitudes among people in 24 countries, and has found that U.S. workers are taking fewer vacation days each year. We let four days, on average, slip by unused in 2013—twice as many as the previous year.
At this rate, vacation may go extinct.According to the Glassdoor Employment Confidence Survey, the top reasons for not taking time off include worrying that no one else can do the work and complete dedication to the company. In a country where at-will employment policies rule—that is, you can get fired for any reason or laid off at a moment’s notice—complete dedication to a company doesn’t seem very smart.
At this rate, vacation might go extinct.
But there’s a more overarching theme in the other reasons employees listed: Fear. Fear of getting behind. Fear of being replaced. Fear of the boss’s opinion.
Americans feel less secure in their jobs than people in other countries, and for good reason. That’s why, according to Glassdoor, the average American employee only takes half her vacation time. And when she does manage to slip away, it’s likely she’s still doing some work remotely.
What can slay guilt and fear? Why, a handy top 10 list, of course! Print this out, gather your courage and put in your time-off request.
WHY YOU SHOULD BOOK YOUR NEXT VACAY TODAY
1. Vacation stimulates parts of your brain that aren’t usually used, so you’ll be more creative and inspired when you come back.
2. You’ll have more perspective on what you do. Problem solving takes time, and stepping away allows you to see the big picture.
3. Life is short. Are you going to post photos of you working late? Or do you want to have videos of you with your closest buds, checking out a stuffed armadillo?
4. Studies have shown that people who work overtime actually become less productive, not more.
5. According to a study of happiness and geography, humans are 5.2 percent happier if they are near a body of water. Get thee to the beach!
6. It’s easier to sleep when you’re relaxed and in a poufy hotel bed, no? REM and deep sleep are essential for learning, as well as preventing infections, strokes and depression.
7. Your coworkers don’t care. Did you even notice when Rachel was gone for a week? No? Exactly.
8. Vacation sex! And according to scientists at the University of Maryland, sex creates new brain cells, making you smarter.
9. According to researchers, women who took a vacation once every six years or less often were almost eight times more likely to have a heart attack than those who took at least two vacations a year.
10. French adults vacation three times as much as Americans, using all of their 30 vacation days that are available to them, reports Expedia. So just pretend you’re French.
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The bottom line: vacations aren’t a luxury. They are a necessity, so make your plans and stick to them. If you’re the manager, create a culture where taking time off is encouraged.
See you in Cabo!