As I sat waiting for my connecting flight this past Saturday, which ended up being delayed for almost three hours, and looked forward to being brisked away home after a week long vacation, I realized something amazing. I felt GOOD. I was relaxed and just plain happy, almost content despite being surrounded screaming children and other travelers who were irate that our plane was delayed, not to mention the not so comfortable terminal chair I kept sliding off of.
It made me realize that despite startling statistics that show the U.S. ranking at the bottom of developed countries in number of vacation days (Italians, well they get to enjoy 42 average paid vacations days each year), and despite that only 57% of Americans actually take their vacation days (we get on average 13 paid days), vacations are nonetheless still important. I was proof as I sat there with a relaxed expression, calmly remembering my visits with friends and family and little adventures amidst a somewhat chaotic environment.
Health experts agree, vacations are good for your overall health. They decrease stress levels and lead to a lower chance of heart conditions and depression as well as longer lives, among other things. Honestly, in all my googling, the health benefits of vacationing make up quite a lengthy list.
The lack of stress was evident as I was actually happy (yes I said happy) to go to the office yesterday morning, fire up my computer and answer the lists of emails and voicemails that awaited me. I was energized, despite not getting eight hours of sleep every night of my trip and traveling all over New England. I felt focused at work and was able to be productive despite it being Monday!
Thank you my dear, wonderful vacation. I give you all the credit. As the week continues and I look at a good deal of training, work and some fun activities coming up this weekend in Tampa, I am excited and look forward to all of it.
So despite whatever employers are doing to cut back on paid vacation days, don’t let them fool you into thinking you shouldn’t take the ones you’ve got. Take EVERY LAST ONE. Because vacations are still very important, if not more important than ever.
Stay tuned for some recaps of my own vacation highlights; Vegan pie, Boston, seaside towns, babies and ice-cream all made it in there!
I have to ask though, do YOU take all your vacation days each year? If not, why?