It’s the first week of August, have you been on a vacation yet? You may think that really fun Memorial Day road trip to visit family or the long weekend to the Hamptons count as vacation, but they don’t.
Vacation leave is often presented as part of our office benefits packages, but a large percentage of us report never taking all of the allowed days off. Would you leave your health care benefits unused? What about that parking spot that came with the job offer? No. So why would you leave another important benefit on the table?
No matter how many outdoor happy hours or crab fests you’ve attended in the evenings, you haven’t really taken advantage of summer until you’ve escaped work for at least a week. Here are a few reasons why.
1. Vacation Makes You Healthier
Hopefully, you know the more intangible benefits of vacation: experiencing new cultures and bonding with family and friends are just a few. The infinite chances to take selfies with the David, post adorable family photos poolside to Instagram or “check in” at the Eiffel Tower may be convincing for you.
If those types of perks aren’t enough to convince you, how about this information from Livestrong: “A nine year study of 12,000 men at risk for heart disease found the men who didn’t take yearly vacations had a 22 percent higher risk of death from all causes and a 32 percent higher risk of death by heart attack.”
So not only is vacationing good for your social media cred, it’s also legitimately healthy.
2. The Really Fun Stuff Is Only Available Now
A quintessential part of a summer vacation is going on an outdoor adventure. Now is the time to try white water rafting, surfing or horseback riding. Getting outside of your comfort zone, learning new skills and meeting new friends is not only fun, it’s healthy.
Don’t think this is important? Just look at 12 Keys Rehab, a well-known alcohol detox center in Florida. They make outdoor activities like paddle boarding, fishing and snorkeling a part of the rehabilitation process, knowing that people “need time to rest their minds and spirits” and “reengage with life.”
Doesn’t that sound like something we all could use?
3. Vacation Makes You a Better Employee
The stress of those last minute presentations and frantic midnight phone calls from the boss clutter your brain and end up having an adverse impact on health. But you probably knew that already, since your heart starts racing any time his name pops up on your caller ID.
What you might not have known, though, is that scientists have proven that taking time away can lead to a decrease in cluttered gray matter brain function. In The New York Times, Tim Kreider wrote, “The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.”
He compared not taking down time as the equivalent of giving us mental rickets. So, yeah, take that vacation and be a better employee because of it.
4. Late August Is the Perfect Time
All of your coworkers have already gone on their amazing all-inclusive trips that they had been planning for months. So you look at them and think, “there is no way I could pull together an epic adventure in just a few weeks.” Wrong.
First of all, late August is a great time to travel because students, and all of their parents, are already back at the homestead starting the back-to-school routine. If you prefer places like Disney or other kid-friendly destinations, you won’t fight the same crowds that were packed in earlier this summer.
5. Sucking up to Your Boss: You’re Doing It Wrong
We are all really impressed with your commitment to your profession. But no one has noticed you didn’t take a vacation. One summer, my boss came back from his three weeks away and instead of complimenting me on how I’d kept the office running smoothly and avoided a major crisis or five, he just asked, “so did you get away while I was out of the office?” Ugh.
At the risk of sounding like a Debbie Downer, no one is looking out for you but you.
So, instead of putting your nose to the proverbial grindstone, why not put it into a snorkeling mask? Americans are notoriously bad at taking the scant vacation days offered to us, while other countries go so far as to mandate generous vacation packages. Don’t leave this perk of the job unused!