Why vacation and time off is critical to your health

vacation170416-smallAustria grants it’s citizens a minimum vacation allowance of 35 paid vacation days per year. Many other citizens with long track records at a company or with highly stressful jobs can expect more time off.

So, not including weekends, Austrians get to enjoy over a month out of the year where they get paid and don’t do a damn thing.

The United States doesn’t have a minimum vacation requirement for it’s citizens. We do have 10 federal holidays that generally provide workers with a day off. But no paid time off is generally provided to all employees by law.

Does this mean that Austrians are more happy than Americans? Absolutely not. According to The World Happiness Report, Austria is only one slot higher than the U.S. in the rankings at #13 and #14 respectively.

So, according to this observation, you’d surmise to say that time off from work does not guarantee happiness. Many people actually enjoy their work. Many more people do not feel complete without a productive days work. Working hard can bring great personal satisfaction and many people crave work over just being idle.

But, despite these observations there are real benefits when you take time off from work that goes beyond overall happiness and satisfaction. Learning to take a break on a regular basis, even from activities that you enjoy, can bring great benefits.

Taking a break recharges you

Constant work might be enjoyable for some, but, if you can learn to take a break from time to time you’ll actually be more excited to get back to work. You’ll be even more energized, focused and full of new ideas because you’ve stepped back.

Essentially, if you’re more productive, you’re more happy. If you’re really happy then the work you produce will be the best you can possibly produce. Taking a break can take you to the next level in your performance.

Professional services firm Ernst & Young conducted a corporate study of its employees and found that when they took an additional 10 hours off for vacation time, their year-end performance review and ratings improved by over 8 percent.


Stress Reduction

Even if you enjoy what you do, you have stress. It’s generally good stress that energizes and excites you. But even this “good stress” can sometimes grind you down and make you tire. Being productive can be exhausting.

As I write this, I am excited to be creating something. But the creative process takes energy. At the end of the day I’ll certainly be tired and ready for a break.

So even if you enjoy your work, it can be a good thing to take time off and let your mind and body rest. Think about other things that excite you, spend time with people that you love, explore the world at a slower pace and let your body heal.

Disease Prevention

At the end of the day, many people don’t love their work. They do it because they have to. How many times have you asked yourself if you won the lottery if you’d go to work the next day? It’s true that many people go to a job that they don’t love and it’s stressful.

Many studies have shown that men and women who skip taking time off are much more in danger of developing heart disease, having a heart attack, or dying of a coronary-related cause than those who took at least two vacations a year.

Taking a break from the daily grind and letting your body and mind wind down is critical to overall health. The more you can reset yourself and break from daily stresses, the better you’ll feel. You really could save your own life.


Further Reading

10 Reasons that vacations matter
What are the benefits of taking a vacation?
Relax! Vacations are good for your health
8 Ways to Vacation Right and Recharge Your Health
Vacations. Good for your health. Seriously.


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