Your prescription for wellness: Vacation

Too much to do. No time. No one to cover for us. We live in a society driven by a relentless work ethic. And that’s not a bad thing, until you consider what it could be doing to our health. It’s believed that Americans waste more than 600 million vacation days a year, and according to employment site Glassdoor, in 2013, a shocking 75 percent of employees with paid time off didn’t use all of their vacation. Ken Shields, MA, LMHC, LCAC, EAP Clinical Supervisor, has some valid reasons for taking a break.

Are you the person who uses up most if not all of your paid time off (PTO) as soon as you earn it? Are you, instead, more apt to occasionally grumble that you have to take some time off before you lose it? One group might be seen as made up of those who work to live versus those who live to work. Many countries around the world have laws which insist on mandatory vacation while these are on the decline in the United States. 

Hundreds of millions of vacation days are thrown away by Americans every year. We find various reasons for not taking advantage of this benefit afforded by employers.  These may range from guilt, to an obsessive need to hoard the time for a rainy day, to believing that we are indispensable in our workplace.

Maintaining a cushion in the PTO bank for holidays or sick time or saving up for a planned vacation makes perfect sense, but not at the expense of reasonable self-care. There are numerous benefits in taking breaks and vacations from our work duties. 

10 Reasons to Take a Vacation

  • Refreshes perspective
  • Renews creativity
  • Realigns priorities
  • Restores endurance
  • Recharges productivity
  • Reinforces mental health and happiness
  • Reduces stress
  • Rejuvenates relationships
  • Restores sleep
  • Reduces outstanding liability for employers:
                      In an analysis conducted on behalf of Project: Time Off, Oxford Economics discovered $224 billion in liabilities sitting on the balance sheets of American companies due to unused vacation time. This liability has been amassed over years of employees rolling over unused paid time off and does not include sick or personal leave.1

Make a resolution to build in breaks.
Set yourself up for getaway bliss by making a plan. Research possible destinations, hang a picture of the location you choose somewhere visible (even just the anticipation of going can enhance your mood), make packing lists, and communicate clearly with your team at work about when you will be gone and the status of your projects so they can assist. 

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