Did you know that 55% of Americans don't take time off from work, even though they have paid time off (PTO)? And of those who do tap into their PTO, 52% still work while on vacation.
No wonder the United States has been deemed the No-Vacation Nation.
Frequently working long hours and not taking time away from the office can severely affect your health and well-being. In fact, a study by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that745,000 people died worldwide in 2016 from heart disease and stroke due to excessive time at work.
Whether your idea of a break is lying by the pool, exploring a national park, or lying in the hammock in your backyard, taking a vacation has many profound health benefits.
Prevent heart disease
Research has shown that taking a vacation can lower work-related (and non-related) stress levels, reducing your risk of developing heart disease.
One study found that for each vacation a participant took, the prevalence of metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, decreased by around 25%.
Another 9-year study suggested that men who took more vacations reduced their risk of dying from heart disease than men who took fewer trips.
It's important to remember that taking time away from daily stressors is only one part of preventing heart disease. A balanced diet, exercise, and managing stress are also crucial to keeping your heart healthy.
Improve mental health
Chronic stress can affect your mental health, leading to depression and anxiety. When you are on vacation, your body and mind have a chance to step away from the everyday pressures. As a result, you feel more relaxed and calm while decompressing from stress.
Research shows a link between improved mental health and more vacations. A study by Marshfield Clinic on women living in rural Wisconsin found that those who vacationed more frequently were less likely to become depressed than those who took less frequent vacations.
Another study found that the risk of depression over a decade for adults was 29% lower for every ten additional days of PTO.
Promotes better sleep
According to the American Sleep Association, 50-70 million adults in the United States have insomnia and other sleep disorders. Over time sleep disruption can result in a long list of major health problems, including hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, heart attack, and stroke.
Experts suggest that vacationing can help interrupt unhealthy sleep habits, like staying up all hours of the night working or scrolling through your phone while allowing you to restart your nightly routine.
Air New Zealand and some former NASA scientists conducted a study that monitored participants' sleep quality starting three days before vacation and extending to three days after. And what they found was telling on the importance of time away to rest:
Participants began to show more prolonged periods of quality sleep on days two and three of vacation that continued when they arrived back home.
They experienced three times more deep sleep (the level of sleep where the body and cells regenerate and restore themselves).
Reduce job burnout
Chronic stress from work has a significant effect on our health and well-being. When not managed, it can also lead to job burnout, where you feel physically and emotionally exhausted, helpless, resentful, hopeless, and unmotivated.
One of the best ways to control workplace stress and decrease the chances of burnout is to take a break from work. A vacation gives you time away to recharge your batteries and find other ways to recover from stress.
Don't wait till you are burnt out to step away. Book the trip, take time off from work, and see the places you've wanted to visit. Even a staycation can give you the rest and relaxation your mind and body need.
No matter what you choose to do with your vacation time, be sure to unplug and leave work behind.
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