How long has it been since you took a proper vacation?
Not just an overnight trip or a quick jaunt to visit family, but a real vacation to a place you’ve always wanted to go with the people you love the most? A trip that lasts more than two days in a place where you can really disconnect and rest? A vacation for entrepreneurs is hard to plan and is even harder to come by.
According to researchers, these vacations don’t happen often enough.
Oxford Economics reported that Americans are taking 16.0 vacation days per year, nearly one week less vacation days than the national average use just 15 years ago.
In 2015, 658 million vacation days went unused.
Why? It appears American workers aren’t feeling the encouragement they need to leave the office for some much needed downtime.
If you’re thinking,I’ve never taken a day off and I’m doing great, you might want to consider the ramifications of your over-dedication. According to Oxford Economics and Project Time Off, forfeiting vacation days goes beyond harming you – those wasted days also do a number on the economy. Their research found:
- Employees who take 10 or less days of vacation time are less likely to get bonuses or raises
- Americans are effectively working for free when they forfeit vacation days
- If every American had used their earned vacation time in 2015, it would have meant $223 million in spending for the U.S. economy
- It would have created 1.6 million jobs
On top on making a major dent in our economy, lost vacation days are bad for your health.
Travel is an important behavior that promotes brain health and builds resilience across the lifespan … because it challenges the brain with new and different experiences and environments,” said Dr. Paul Nussbaum, president and founder of the Brain Health Center.
It’s science. It’s economics. It’s common sense. Vacations make us better human beings. Here are 17 critical reasons you need to book your next vacation this summer.
Vacations prevent disease
Vacationing regularly keeps your heart healthy and reduces your risk of heart disease; men who vacationed frequently are 32 percent less likely to die of a heart attack. Women cut their chances in half. (2010 Framingham Heart Study)
Strengthen your relationships
Whether it’s just you and your spouse or the whole family, vacations allow you the unadulterated time together you likely don’t get on an average day. In fact, 79 percent of employees feel that taking time off strengthens bonds with friends and family.(CityPass Infographic)
Chronic stress is poison for the body; it takes its toll on every single system. It increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, and psychological disorders. It robs us of sleep and harms job performance.
Reduce risk of illness or death
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute conducted a study that followed 12,000 men over the course of nine years to learn more about the effects of vacationing. They found that men who took frequent vacations (twice a year) were 21 percent less likely to die of any cause and 32 percent less likely to die of heart disease.
Reduces anxiety and depression
Constant stress and performance can increase anxiety, and little downtime can increase the chance for depression. A study conducted by Marshfield Clinic found that women who take a vacation less than once every two years are at a much greater risk for depression and increased stress versus women who took vacation time twice a year.
Vacations make us more productive. It is known. Studies have found that when we return from vacation, 2 out of 3 workers see an improvement in concentration and productivity. Also, 61 percent of workers feel greater satisfaction with their jobs and 91 percent of business leaders believe employees return recharged and work more efficiently.
Improves creative thinking
This one is pretty common sense: the fact that you get away from the bustle of an office or your everyday life allows your brain to focus on other things. You actually have time to do some uninterrupted thinking and day dreaming.
Help you maintain focus
Continuous work and stress without any breaks causes our brains to haywire a bit; we lose the ability to focus on goals and day-to-day tasks, and we’re easily distracted. Vacations help our brain to relax, which helps us return to work much sharper.
Opens you up to reflection
When you have time to relax and enjoy yourself, it’s easier to assess situations and gain a new perspective on issues in a different light.
New surroundings = new ideas
Traveling to new places opens you up to new surroundings, sometimes new culture, new food, new music and new ways of living. When we step outside our comfort zone, we open ourselves up to new ways of being. It can be a pretty powerful motivator.
It makes you a better leader
A survey of 250 executives found that 84 percent have cancelled vacation plans due to pressures at work (Korn/Ferr). Leaders set the example for how employees should behave. Want your staff to feel free to take vacations? Take more yourself.
You will sleep better
There’s an old saying that goes, “A well rested mind is a productive mind.” Not only will your mind be clearer, but studies have shown that people who vacation frequently see a 20 percent improvement in sleep quality.
Increase work satisfaction
There’s nothing like feeling dispassionate about your own business. Before you feel like it’s time to close the doors and check in to a mental hospital, try taking a vacation instead.
You might actually have fun
Adulting is rough sometimes. Between work and family obligations, there’s little room left for much enjoyment in an average day. Doing something that brings you joy is an awesome way to gain perspective.
Makes you skinnier
Well, kind of. Studies have found that people who vacation frequently tend to have smaller waistlines. Forget about getting the perfect beach abs and just take that vacation.
Improves your sex life
We know by now that stress takes a massive toll on our bodies, but it also affects our libido. When stress is high, so is the hormone cortisol, and this has a negative impact on sex hormones like testosterone. People who vacation frequently have more sex
Grows your business
By getting away from the daily stressors, you will re-ignite the passion for your business with a fresh perspective and a sharper mind. You never know where those new ideas could lead.
Where’s your favorite place to vacation? Share with us in the comments!