Yes, You DO Need A Vacation!

Vacation Poor America

Of all developed countries in the world, Americans are the worst at taking time off from work. Compared to the good people in England, France, Germany, Spain, Brazil, Norway, Denmark, Italy, and Sweden (I can go on), the good people in the United States take less than the 14 days they have earned; on average they take around 12 days a year. And usually not in a row, compared to those in other countries, who earn and take up to 30 days of vacation per year…much of it all at the same time.

A Very Dull Saw Indeed

Should we conclude that we would obviously rather keep hacking away at things with the proverbial rusty saw than take the time away from work to sharpen it? Are we that in love with our jobs? Or have we all come to accept a misguided managerial way of thinking about time off that equates taking vacations with employees goofing off and decreasing company productivity, instead of understanding that time off pays dividends, nurturing a sustainable workforce? (And that was with just one foot on the soapbox!)

The Vacation Deprived

Not working with a sharp saw is dangerous.  And not taking time off for some vacation is also potentially dangerous. All work and no play is a recipe for burnout, no matter how much you may enjoy your workplace. And if you are one of the 40% who experience high levels of work stress according to the American Institute of Stress, not taking vacation time can indirectly be associated with increased rates of heart attack, hypertension, and other physical and mental health disorders.

Stop With the Excuses Already

So you can’t take an entire week off of work, or you would lose your job. So your boss still expects you to be available to handle emergencies. So you can’t afford to travel to beautiful, exotic locations. Fine.  Start taking what you can, right where you are right now. Try taking several three or four-day weekends of vacation in a row, if you can’t get away for a week. Try a “stay-cation,” which counts as long as you are not working! If you can’t leave, explore where you live as if you were a tourist. Go see the sights! Just please stop and smell the roses.

They aren’t going to bloom forever.

DrAnita Sanz, PhD, Psychologist

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