The Right Kind of Time Off

Time Off and Our Mental Health

As I talk with people about the last few weeks, I don’t hear many stories of people taking time off work. And, this isn’t just true in COVID-19 times. In 2018, a record of 768 million vacation days went unused by employees. That is 768 million days that could have been taken to recharge.

What Not Taking Time Off Does to Our Bodies

It contributes to an earlier death. The Helsinki Businessman Study found that people who took vacations lasting less than three weeks had a 37 percent chance of dying earlier than those who took vacations lasting three weeks or more.

It hurts our hearts. Data collected in 1991 from a renowned ongoing longitudinal project started in 1948, called the Framingham study, shows that female homemakers who took a vacation only once every six years or less had nearly twice the risk of developing heart attacks or having a fatal heart problem than those who took time off at least twice a year.

It hurts creativity. A study by researchers at the University of California Santa Barabara found that unless we rest our minds for defined periods of time, we won’t be able to think and process as creatively as we would if we give our minds a break.

Reasons to Take Time Off

First, you’ll likely end up making more money. People who take a vacation end up getting a raise or bonus more than people who never take a vacation. According to Harvard Business Review’s Project Time Off, people who took more than 10 of their vacation days had a 65.4 percent chance of receiving a raise or bonus within three years, while people who took fewer than 10 vacation days only had a 34.6 percent likelihood of receiving a raise or bonus within three years.

Secondly, one 2013 study from Sweden’s Uppsala University found that people who take vacations may boost the mental health of those around them. The researchers found a “practically significant” relationship between more people taking a vacation and fewer antidepressant drugs needed.

Third, good time off increases our energy. After people reported taking a vacation that was “positive,” they came back and said that it had a significant effect on their energy and stress. In this particular study, 94 percent of people had as much or more energy after coming back after a good trip compared to vacations that weren’t considered positive, where only 55 percent of people returned with higher energy levels than before the trip.

We Need to Have “Positive” Vacations

Not all vacations are equal, and that means that it’s vital that when we take those days off, we need to be wise. I found the articles below to be helpful with this.