Culture

Skipping Vacation Time Is Harmful to Your Health

vacation time 

When I was a child looking out into the grown-up world, I was baffled by what would happen to our summers, holidays, and vacations. I thought attending school was hard enough then. The idea of being an adult and working a full-time job scared me into thinking that work is all that would exist. Grown-ups seemed to be so mature, so hard working and so “without a break.” It’s not as if society or school taught us what really happens when we grow up or what to expect. There really should have been a “lifestyle” class offered to us.

I remember pondering how many vacation days adults receive, or if they get any at all. Imagine a world where adults can’t take a few days to venture off for vacation! My train of thought was, “How could I get in as many vacations as I could before I became a serious adult?”

Luckily, the world is our oyster. We do have vacation days to use when we grow up, and I’ve received the answers to my thoughts and questions. I have chosen to take full advantage of those vacation days, and it has become a routine activity within my life. The world goes on, employed or not, and with or without vacations. However, I’ve come to the realization that taking a vacation is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself.

Before you choose to ignore this year’s remaining vacation days, check out these reasons why not taking a vacation is actually more harmful to your health.

Running on Zero Percent

We are similar to machines and electronics even though we are humans and have organs. Let’s hope we all don’t turn into robots like in the  movie, Chappie.

As a cell phone runs out of battery and dies, so do we.

Do we want to reach that point? Do we feel proud of ourselves when we are overworked and exhausted as if we have achieved some greater goal in life? Are our bosses or other individuals recharging their batteries for us?

It doesn’t work that way, even though some of us wish it did. Society has given us this image we want to obtain — the hard working American, living happily ever after with a white picket fence and a family. Nowhere is it discussed that some of those “happy” Americans living the dream never take a break to enjoy life. They just work, work, and work some more. The yard with their white picket fence is all the vacation they choose to take.

Plugging ourselves into an outlet and getting some “juice” to run a bit faster and more efficiently would be an ideal reality for some of us, I bet. It’s a shame, because obtaining rest the natural way is so much better.

I remember my mother always telling me, “You are too tired, take a break and get back to it later.” This was deemed annoying by me as I was a perfectionist and I needed to get the task done right there, right then. The same went for “You need to get at least eight hours of sleep,” which we should all really be giving ourselves in order to perform our best.

Besides those eight hours of sleep, we should be taking a vacation. This does not mean those “sick days” when you stay home to catch up on sleep, or a “staycation” where you clean your apartment and have the TV on all day.

Humans need to re-energize, and doing it outside of our common habitats is sometimes exactly the kick we need for our bodies to rev back up. Think of a vacation as obtaining a new charge, to a full 200%, and to a much better you.

Increasing the Risk of Heart Attack

Maybe some of you don’t read the health section in the news, but not taking a vacation can actually heighten the risk of having a heart attack.

All that time without real relaxation builds up, and it can lead to your arteries being clogged up. Don’t believe me? There are studies that have proven this. The landmark Framingham Heart Study has shown that women who vacationed only once within a one year period were eight times more likely to develop a cardiac condition. Men are about 30% more likely to experience a heart attack if they don’t take a vacation for several years.

There is a study (mentioned by CNN.com) that proves 32% of those individuals with a pre-existing cardiac condition are more susceptible to heart attacks, and would have lived longer lives if they had taken vacations.

Knowing these facts does not mean that these statistics are being spread. This is not a common thing to search for, and employers do not step forward with such discussions.

We all have a heart. We are all prone to a developing a condition, cardiac or something else entirely different, with our environment being a major factor. Knowing that this can happen to anyone should encourage us to share this information with others, and prevent us from becoming a statistic.

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Building Guilt

Are we taught to feel bad for doing something that makes us happy? We have all received a lesson on how not to be selfish and to share with others. I particularly remember learning to work in groups and as a team throughout my life. Therefore, as we work together in our daily lives, whether it be at our jobs, home or family, we should give and take our fair share of the work as well as time off.

This is where our over-achievers come in, along with those who begin to feel guilty for not being “there” all the time. I believe one of our other life lessons is that sharing does not ever stop, and the world is a much better place when everyone gets some of what’s being distributed.

In that case, we should not feel guilty about taking something that is legally provided to us. If we have vacation days that are given to us, let’s use them.

On average, most workers in the U.S. receive 14 days of vacation per year, and only use 12 of those days. Why are we holding ourselves back? No one is going to arrest us or threaten our jobs. The days are provided to us in the contract we sign when we decide to accept a position. If our jobs wanted us to take fewer vacation days, then they would give us a lower number.

If we feel guilty about taking a vacation (and we know some of you do), then we should really start feeling guilty about everything. Feel guilty about that bathroom break, that smoke break, that coffee run. Oh, and don’t forget to feel guilty about leaving early on any day ever again.

If we allow guilt to run our lives, we will be in a much worse place. Now that is something to really frown upon.

Lessening Productivity

If we want to work like a hamster in a spinning wheel, going in non-stop circles, then we might already be lost. Until then, we have the control to make a difference in our performance and exactly how much we want to run around in circles.

Who has been told that they are analyzed based on their performance? This holds true to everything in life — at your workplace, in your home, with your friends and with any interactions you have. Just as we like others to get back to us in an efficient time and manner, we too should do the same.

There are many ways to enhance our productivity, but one of the easiest ways to lessen it, is to not go on a vacation. Spending time in the same environment, with the same people and the same issues can really become a bother to us. Not only can we have one bad day, but those can pile up and then we really don’t want to do anything at all.

There is a reason we are sometimes told to “take a break” or why we were given recess when we were in elementary school. The nerves in our brains need to tune out for a bit, or else we will fall flat onto our faces.

Would you rather spend a few days performing as crappy as ever or take a vacation, rejuvenate, and come back better than ever?

Not only will your health thank you, but so will everyone else. You will be able to pick up where you left off. Realizing that “being gone” can be a good thing is something we still have to learn and remember.

Now look at how many vacation days you have left for this year, and make a proactive decision to use them as you toast to good health and a happier life.

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