Vacations are truly one of life’s greatest pleasures. Whether it’s for an overnight road trip or a backpacking trek across Europe, there are few things as exciting as packing up a suitcase and escaping from everyday life, if only for a little while.
Unfortunately for many of us, though, the giddiness of planning vacation time comes along with the stress and anxiety of stepping away from our busy work lives in an attempt to relax. And with so many projects and deadlines looming over our heads, sometimes it seems easier to skip out on the time off, just until things “slow down.”
In fact, according to a recent survey conducted by Accountemps, 41 percent of Americans take little or no vacation time, because they’re afraid of returning to more work. The findings also discovered that 34 percent of employees ages 18-34 admit to checking in at least once a day while they’re on vacation.
Meanwhile, 56 percent of Americans in 2015 said they hadn’t taken a vacation in the last 12 months, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“Americans have very low expectations about vacation time when compared with the rest of the world,” said Kathleen Gerson, a sociology professor at New York University, in an interview with Public Radio International. “Europeans routinely take four to six weeks — it’s mandated, it’s expected, and no one has to apologize for it.” Gerson also explained employee pressures and concerns about getting ahead in their careers often contribute to Americans skipping out on vacation time.
While this may seem like we’re being more productive, foregoing proper time off may be doing more harm to us than good.
According to a study conducted by the American Journal of Epidemiology, working 10 or more hours a day can actually increase risk of coronary heart disease in both sexes by up to 80 percent. Multiple studies have also found that overwork can lead to other negative health effects, including lower cognitive function, and depression, even among individuals who have never displayed signs of mental health issues.
On the other hand, a study published in the Wisconsin Medical Journal suggested women who take at least two vacations per year are “less likely to become tense, depressed, or tired, and are more satisfied with their marriages.”
So the next time you feel guilty about taking some much needed time off, just remember that a little rest and relaxation is never a bad idea.