Recently I read that many people are not using their vacation time during the pandemic even though some time off would have been a benefit for their health. I hope that you are not one of those individuals. I hope you are reading this on your vacation. If you are not on vacation, then maybe this will help you to think about your upcoming vacation. If neither of these applies, then please, please tell me that you are fondly remembering the vacation from which you just recently returned. Summer is the time for vacation and it is very important that you take one. There’s medical evidence to support this.
It’s easy to find articles about the value of vacations for stress reduction. There are numerous articles on how much vacation students from kindergarten through university need in the summer but there is never any doubt raised as to the stress-reduction value of some vacation in the summer. Various studies can be found that show a reduction of heart disease in both men and women who take vacations, a very specific benefit of a vacation. Many people are wary of venturing outside the country but this article specifically on the benefits of travelling abroad helped me to feel less fearful. This article was written before the pandemic so it could not consider how difficult travelling is now with airports and airlines snarling because of a lack of service personnel. Even so, everyone I know returning from their international trips is so refreshed and energized that I cannot wait to book a trip outside of Canada.
Research is also demonstrating that workers who vacation are more productive. The companies that assist employers and insurance companies in improving productivity have produced studies that link robust vacation policies with improved productivity. This article from the Harvard Business Review summarizes some work regarding this, but the article also references the studies which demonstrate this fact. The problem is that the idea that taking more and better vacations improves productivity is counterintuitive to many employers so we don’t always see businesses taking advantage of this knowledge. Ironically, it almost seems as though workers in North America are not convinced of this since many do not use all our vacation time. One article I read noted that Canadians on average leave 3 of their vacation days unused, This amounts to 31 million unused vacation days across Canada! The same article notes that this does amount to $5.5 billion extra for an employer, which could offset their productivity concerns.
Finally, there are specific mental health benefits to taking a vacation – I am aware of these personally just having returned to work from ten days away. This article outlines these benefits. If you cannot relate to these mental health benefits, it may be another sign that it has been too long since you had a vacation.
All these health-related reasons for taking a vacation does bring me back to my main point, which is that you must take a vacation. Paddle in the ocean, go “glamping”, go to a Farmer’s Market. Take a lawn chair into your own backyard or a nearby park and read a magazine or book. It will be good for you. You’ll reduce your stress level and your chances of heart disease. All these benefits for you will also benefit your family – if you can’t take a vacation for yourself, take one for your partner and kids.
Then, if you feel like it, please tell me what you did and where you went. I’m always looking for ideas.