The Importance of Using Vacation Time

Vacations provide people with much-needed rest from daily work routines, time for relaxation, or temporary relief from reality. Such breaks are not only needed to maintain higher levels of productivity, but they also serve medical purposes. Scientifically, time off from work provides a reduction in stress, helps with the prevention of heart disease, assists in improving productivity, and aids with sleep quality. Despite the scientifically proven medical benefits, most Americans do not use all their vacation time or view vacations in the same manner.  Nevertheless, the need for a vacation is indisputable.

Vacations are the best antidote for stress and the stress-related health problems that are well-documented by medical professionals. In a 1991 research study by Daniel Ganster published in the Journal of Management titled Work Stress and Employee Health, the researcher suggested that stress is a main contributor to mental and physical disorders. Furthermore, stress caused higher levels of absences and losses in productivity.  Stress can cause health issues that include migraines, insomnia, stomach and digestive issues, and cardiovascular problems.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, including Karen Matthews, added to the volume of research on work-related stress. The finding of the investigation concluded that middle-aged male participants with a high risk for coronary heart disease (CHD) who took vacations had a lower risk of mortality caused by CHD. However, men in the same risk group that did not take vacations had a 30 percent higher risk of suffering from a heart attack. Therefore, vacation time may contribute to good health. The results on heart disease and vacations are also similar in women.

Results from a study conducted by Vatsal Chikani, Douglas Reding, Paul Gunderson, and Catherine McCarty published in the Wisconsin Medical Journal suggested that frequent vacations led to lower levels of tension, depression, and fatigue in women. Furthermore, the results of the study suggested that these women also had happier and more satisfying marriages and a higher quality of life compared to those who did not take frequent vacations. Most of the results of scientific research converge on the idea that the vacation does not have to be long. Individuals may achieve positive results from a break of a few days.

Although the perception may be that vacations are costly to employers, the loss of productivity can end up costing more than providing employees with needed rest. So encouraging personnel to take advantage of time off and engage in activities outside of the normal set of daily tasks is in a company’s best interest. Working to the point of exhaustion and eventual burnout will hurt an individual’s ability to think and can create strains in personal and professional relationships. However, the quality of the vacation is also important. Vacations should be about improving energy levels by eliminating stress. Therefore, individuals must plan ahead to ensure that time is spent on activities that will reduce stress and improve well-being so that the rest period produces only positive effects.

Look into investing quality time in new experiences without creating anxiety or tension. For example, try fun activities, surf Hawaii, experience a helicopter tour in Maui, or visit a museum that allows you to develop different perspectives. Talk to and meet new people and share ideas or visit the Mackinac island resorts to spend quality time in an island full of family-owned and operated properties. Whatever you decide to do, be sure to enjoy. Your health depends on it.

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