Year after year Americans see reports that say we don’t take enough vacation time. Sometimes, as many as 56% of Americans don’t take a vacation at all. (1) But, studies are proving that this is neither healthy for the individual nor profitable for the company. While that may sound counter-intuitive, it has been proven that people are the most productive and healthy when they are relaxed and leading balanced lives.
A study performed by the State University of New York at Oswego showed that men age 35-57 that didn’t take at least one week of time away from work annually saw a 30% hike in their risk of heart disease. Further, it showed that those who did take vacations had a lower risk of other stress-related diseases like obesity and type 2 diabetes.(2) As employers know, these physical reactions are not just dangerous, they are expensive for the individual and the employer to ensure people are getting the healthcare they need to treat these issues.
Other studies, such as the one from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health revealed that long hours of work can actually diminish your mental capacity. People who constantly work longer hours are not only more likely to experience depression, but in a different study by the same group, they actually found a reduction in the ability to reason. (3)
So, what’s the moral of the story here? Take breaks. Even small, one-day breaks from the stress and grind of everyday life can revitalize you.(2) But, it has to be a low-stress break, so take the time to do things you love because engaging in time away in which you develop new skills (like, say, pottery courses or kite-surfing) will help you keep that relaxed, productive feeling long after the vacation has ended.(3)