Take That Vacation . . . For Your Health
Do yourself a solid and take some time off.
By Matt Bralick, FitMe Wellness
Summer is the perfect time for a much deserved vacation. The kids are off of school, and here in Rockford, that gorgeous warm weather doesn’t last long. But with all there is to do around the house and at work, who honestly has the time to go away for a week and relax?
A recent survey found that the average American employee only takes half of their allotted vacation time. Even among those who actually take their full vacation, a quarter were contacted by a coworker, and one in five were contacted by their supervisor about something work-related.
Nowadays, the average employee suffers from feeling overworked and overwhelmed, yet they feel guilty about taking time for themselves to combat these threats to their own health. For those of you who need that extra push off the fence, here are four reasons science says you should take that vacation — for your health.
A study by the American Psychological Association found that vacations reduce stress by removing people from the activities and environments that cause them stress. Yes, believe it or not, it is hard to relax when you’re around all of the things that cause you stress! This may seem like a no-brainer, but there is a real scientific basis behind actually going somewhere as opposed to staying home to relax. Another study from the University of Vienna showed that after taking time off from work, vacationers had fewer stress-based physical complaints like headaches and backaches. These effects were still noticeable five weeks later.
Heart Disease Prevention
Men who skipped vacations for five consecutive years are 30 percent more likely to suffer heart attacks than those who took at least a week off each year. Even just missing a single year’s vacation showed a higher risk of heart disease. Among women these numbers are even a bit scarier: those who took one vacation every six years were eight times more likely to develop heart disease, have a heart attack, or die of a coronary related cause, than those who took two vacations a year. Long term, vacations are actually invaluable to your heart’s health, which goes hand in hand with the reduction of stress they provide.
Vacations actually help interrupt the patterns and habits that can disrupt our sleep, like working late, or watching a backlit screen before bed. Restless nights and disrupted sleep are common complaints, often stemming from a lack of sleep due to a constantly churning mind. The lack of sleep can cause a lack of focus, alertness, impaired memory, an increased propensity to injury, and a decreased quality of life.
Believe it or not, the case can be made that an un-vacationed employee is less valuable than one who takes a week off per year for themselves. Professional services firm Ernst & Young orchestrated an internal study of its employees, and found that for each 10 hours of vacation time they took, their year-end performance ratings improved 8 percent. Another study by the Boston Consulting Group found that high-level professionals who were required to take time off were significantly more productive overall than those who spent more time working. •