The US Travel Association in its 2018 State of the American Vacation report estimates that 52% of US workers have at least one unused paid day off. It also reports that at the end of every year, around 705 million vacation days go unused, with over 212 million of those being forfeited. And since 73% of the US workforce is given at least one paid day off, the trend seems to be avoiding taking the day off.
But why are people not taking their day off?
Research done by Kimble Applications, a UK software firm, surveyed more than 1,200 US workers and found four main ways that forgoing a day off is rationalized. These included:
- Employer Disapproves – A significant number of people avoid taking a day off because they are nervous about requesting one, with 19% of those surveyed reporting having experienced pressure from management to stay at work.
- Career Goals – Many believe that not taking vacation days projects the image of a hard worker deserving of promotion. Almost 20% of participants were willing to forfeit a whole year of vacation time in exchange for a promotion.
- Vacations Cause Stress – Some avoid taking a day off because of the stress involved with leaving work. This stress includes juggling too many projects to feel comfortable leaving, as well as dread of the work that will pile up for them while they are away.
- Would be Working on Vacation Anyway – Instead of relaxing and unwinding, nearly half of respondents said they couldn’t unplug completely. Instead, they checked on work, with 29% actually expected to remain available while away from the office.
And that last point is actually part of a larger trend in the US of using vacation time or some other type of day off to work more intensely. The phenomenon has even been called a ‘workcation’. This idea is not new, especially among creatives (think: eccentric novelist finishing their latest opus in a remote cabin in the woods), but a wider set of people in more diverse industries is adopting the practice. It can be an incredibly energizing, productive way to get work done. But if an employee is using their day off to get more work done rather than recharging, it can do more harm than good. On top of indicating that their workload may be too much to handle (risking burnout), using a day off to do anything work-related prevents an employee from reaping the advantages of some well-deserved time off.
The truth is: taking a day off is good for you.
Taking the day off and really rejuvenating can make you healthier, calmer, more satisfied with your life, and better at your job. And those aren’t fluffy, feel-good reasons to convince your boss that your day off is actually good for business (even though it is). I have compiled the latest research to demonstrate that a day off is just what the doctor, psychiatrist, and (hopefully) your employer ordered.
Your Body will Thank You from the Bottom of Its… Heart
One major area that is affected by taking it easy is your health. Research has been conducted on the effect of rest and relaxation on a number of health issues, but the data on the effects of a day off or more on heart health is particularly convincing.
Now correlation does not imply causation, but a heart health study conducted in Finland over the course of more than four decades found an association between those who took more vacation days and a much healthier heart.
This finding is supported by at least two other reputable sources:
- The American Medical Association in its trade journal published a study that found, among a lot of other things, that men who more frequently took a day off were 32% less likely to experience complications due to heart disease compared with those who stayed at work those days.
- Similarly, another long-term study was conducted by several research organizations on the residents of Framington, Massachusetts. It found in women a positive correlation between time off and a healthier heart.
So, let everyone know you care about your heart health by scheduling time off. Leverage the power of your communications platform by changing your status to “Unavailable” and your Unified Communications Presence information to “Out of Office.”
Mental Health Directly Affects Your Quality of Life
Another area that is directly affected by the toll of the hustle and bustle of work is your mental health. And it may be the most important reason to take a day off. Because how you feel directly controls how satisfied you are with your life and your job.
The role of well-deserved leisure in reducing stress and increasing life satisfaction may seem like a no-brainer. But significant research has been done on this, and the connection is backed by several major studies:
- One study exploring the effect of leisure activities on people found a positive correlation between leisure and good mental health, especially if they were enjoying leisure activities with other people.
- Another was conducted by the University of Pittsburgh’s Mind-Body Center, surveying around 1,400 study participants. Researchers found that “leisure, including vacation, contributed to more positive emotions and fewer negative emotions and depression.”
And those findings are just a sampling of the research available to suggest that making time for yourself makes you feel healthier, more energetic, and less stressed.
Plan Your Day Off with UC
I’m sure you’re convinced to take your day off now. Did you know that modern Unified Communications systems can help ease the transition both into your day off and when you get back? This is because systems like Switchvox are packed with features that make it easy to plan a day off and even easier to come back to work, recharged and refreshed.
To sum up the benefits of time off:
A day off will:
- Bolster your heart health and help prevent heart diseases.
- Reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, while increasing life satisfaction.
- Increase productivity and focus, and let you fall in love with your job again.
- And allow you to step back, take stock, and ensure your work and life are aligned with your values and aspirations.
Skipping your holiday will:
- Just be another day at work.
- And make you miss out on all the life, health, and job benefits of leisure.
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