6 Reasons You Need to Plan a Vacation This Year

Article posted in: Lifestyle

Americans only use about half of their paid time off every year, according to a recent Harris Interactive survey. And 61 percent say they work while on vacation, even though their families complain, making it not a vacation as much as working in a really nice place.

Health experts say that’s bad—for morale, for productivity, for our families and for our health. Here are six good reasons you should get out of town regularly:

1. It does your heart good.

Two of the biggest studies on heart health—the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial (MRFIT) and the Framingham Heart Study—found that people who took regular vacations every year were far less likely to have heart attacks than people who kept their nose to the grindstone. In the Framingham study, women who only took vacations once every six years or less were eight times more likely to develop heart disease than those who took them more frequently.

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2. You could live longer.

In the MRFIT study, which looked at 12,000 men, those who got away were 21 percent less likely than those who didn’t to die from any cause during the course of the study.

3. You’ll be less depressed.

One study of 1,500 women found that those who took vacations less often than once every two years were more likely to be depressed than women who got out of town more frequently. Research by Karen Matthews of the University of Pittsburgh Mind-Body Center found that women who had been recruited for studies on breast cancer, cardiovascular disease and other conditions and who spent some time on leisure activities, including vacations, tended to be happier and less depressed.

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4. Your stress takes a holiday, too.

Multiple studies have found that taking a holiday from work stress makes work stress disappear—at least for a while. In one Israeli study of 87 blue collar workers, those who took a vacation not only experienced a reduction in their stress levels, they also erased burnout and felt more satisfied with their lives. A key to making lasting changes in stress levels—don’t take a stressful vacation, writes happiness researcher Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, in the Harvard Business Review. Plan all the details far ahead and get far away. A Twitter study found that the farther people were away from home, the happier they were. “Poorly planned and stressful vacations eliminate the positive benefit of time away,” Achor writes.

5. Your family life improves.

Studies done by Purdue University scientist found that taking vacations encourage family bonding and better communication through shared experiences.

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6. You become more productive at work.

And smart bosses know it. A survey done by the US Travel Association and Oxford Economics found that most managers were well aware that employees who take time off are more productive, healthier, and have higher morale. Only 17 percent of managers who responded to the survey considered workers who took all their time off less dedicated to the job. An internal survey by the accounting firm Ernst & Young revealed that for each additional 10 hours of vacation employees took, performance ratings from supervisors went up eight percent. Feel free to show this to your boss.