In the United States, employees at all levels end the year with unused vacation days. In 2021, the average number of vacation days left on the books was about nine and a half, with some employees taking no vacation time while others max out their vacation days.
Research shows that employees that use their vacation days have several benefits over those who use only a few or skip their vacation completely. Individuals who take their vacation tend to have lower rates of sick days, higher job satisfaction, and higher levels of productivity.
However, there is another side to taking our vacation days every year. Vacation is the time we connect with families, which may be a partner or spouse and children, or it may be parents or other family members. This is a time to relax, find things to enjoy, and have extended interactions with people who are meaningful in your life.
Mental Health Benefits
Getting away from the stress and pressure at work is essential for mental health and well-being. Lowering stress means getting better sleep, feeling more positive, and being calmer and more responsive rather than reactive. It is also linked to increased creativity and problem solving, which is essential both at work and at home.
Spending time with family and friends is an essential part of mental wellness. These interpersonal interactions help us have a sense of connection, which is critical to feeling cared for and loved.
Going new places, changing routines, and having additional freedom to do things you enjoy are also positive changes during the vacation that support mental health and prevent issues like burnout and stress-related issues.
Physical Health Benefits
Spending time outdoors, taking walks, or playing with the kids or the dog is just as important. Vacation days are a time to do what you enjoy, which typically includes different physical activity levels than a traditional workday.
In some cases, vacation days may also be more restful, giving your body time to recover if you have a physically demanding job. Staying in good physical health helps you to have the energy you need for both your personal and professional life.
Strengthen Your Relationships
Spending time with loved ones and friends during a vacation, or meeting new people while you are on vacation, are all positive activities in life. Using vacation time to interact with the children and your partner brings the family closer.
People who have strong family connections and a network of friends are less likely to have symptoms of depression and anxiety, and they also report higher levels of satisfaction with their life.
Taking a vacation is a part of staying healthy and being able to fully enjoy all the benefits of your personal and professional life.