It’s August—vacation time! Well…maybe not. A recent survey found that almost 50 percent of U.S. employees forfeited half or more of their vacation days last year. That means they didn’t take them. That means they just kept working.
I can understand the mentality: I used to get four weeks vacation a year—and I think I took maybe two weeks at most. The reasons: too much work to do, too many meetings, too many deadlines…there always seemed to be plenty of excuses as to why I couldn’t take a day off.
But do your body a favor: book some time off this month to enjoy what’s left of summer. And if you need a little encouragement, here are four reasons you’ll be better off:
1. You’ll be less stressed. I know this seems pretty obvious, but it’s worth a reminder. De-stressing is critical to your health. Too much continuous stress suppresses the immune system. It’s also been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, ulcers, anxiety, depression…almost every major condition.
2. You’ll sleep better. I know that after working continuously without a break for months, I started having trouble getting to sleep—and staying asleep. My mind was always going! Once you’re able to take a break, all of your body’s daily functions get back to normal, including your nighttime zzzs.
3. You’ll be happier. Spend your days off doing something you love (even if it’s just sitting and reading a book)—and you’ll feel better about yourself and your life. Get bogged down in the daily grind for too long and you lose perspective on everything else! And if you’re unhappy in your job, this might give you the impetus to start looking for a new one.
4. You’ll be more creative. By just taking your mind off something for even a day or two, you’ll find that your ideas—once you get back to work—flow more freely and are a bit more original.
Keep in mind, though, you don’t need to book a long, expensive vacation. Even just a day or two away works wonders. It’s better, as I’ve found recently, to have shorter and more frequent vacations then one big block of time off. But—and this is so important—you have to leave your computer at home (and resist the urge to check work e-mails on your Smartphone) to reap vacation’s benefits. Otherwise, your vacation is just work…in a different place!
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