You Need a Vacation: 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Pass Up Time Off

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The article is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.

Are you avoiding taking time off work for some “me time”? If you find yourself unsure of whether to take a vacation, you’re not alone – the amount of paid time off that Americans are actually using is declining significantly year by year.

If you’ve been dreaming of taking a cruise in the Caribbean or seeing the Wonders of the World, there are some very good reasons why you should follow that intuition. In this article, we’ll uncover 5 reasons why you need a vacation this year.

Why Are Americans Taking Fewer Vacations?

Studies have shown that only half of Americans use their paid vacation days each year, choosing to stay sitting at their desks rather than sipping on a pina colada under a palm tree. But why would they make this decision? A survey asked workers exactly that.

The number one reason was that they didn’t feel the need to take more time off. In other words, they likely saw taking a relaxing vacation as pointless. Number two was they were worried they might fall behind at work. This one was especially prevalent with higher-paid workers like managers and business owners.

The third excuse? Workers felt bad about their co-workers taking on additional work. They put others’ needs ahead of their own need to relax and recharge. Number four was the worry that taking time off might hurt their chances for job advancement. This could be a real or perceived threat.

5 Reasons You Should Take a Vacation

If you need a little nudge in the direction of taking some time off work, here are five important reasons why you should put your paid days off to good use.

1. It’s Good for Your Mental Health

Taking a well-earned vacation can have some significant mental health benefits, some of which can stay with us for months after we’ve returned to our desks. Vacations give us time away from the stress that we may not even realize we’re experiencing up at work.

A good break from work has been shown to improve life satisfaction and mood. When you’re not sitting next to that dreaded coworker, your anxiety levels will probably drop almost immediately. One study found that women who took a vacation twice a year or more were less likely to experience depression.

It doesn’t have to be a long vacation to improve your mental well-being. Even a short three-day excursion can reduce levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, and have you returning to work with a more positive outlook on life. Pro tip: setting yourself up with effective online therapy will allow you to work on your mental health even while you’re out of town.

2. It’s Good for Your Physical Health

Research has shown that stress has a negative effect on all systems of the body including the musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, nervous, and reproductive systems. That means taking time away from work to unwind is essential to your physical health.

A number of studies have found a correlation between taking vacations and improved heart health. One of these studies found that men who didn’t take a vacation for several years were 30% more likely to have a heart attack.

Vacations promote physical activity. You’ll be getting far more exercise walking along the beach in Hawaii than sitting in your cubicle answering phone calls. Exercise brings with it many different health benefits.

3. It Actually Makes You Better at Your Job

Looking back at one of the reasons why Americans are letting their paid time off go to waste, people are afraid that taking a vacation will make them look lazy or uncommitted to their job, which could in turn hurt their chance of getting that promotion they’ve been hoping for.

The reality is quite the opposite, in fact – research has shown that workers who took more than 10 vacation days in a year had a 65.4% chance of receiving a raise or bonus. This is probably because vacations allow for relaxation, which helps the brain function better, allowing us to be more productive when we’re back to work.

4. It Helps You To Bond with Others

Being too busy with work tends to have a negative effect on our personal relationships. Not spending enough time with our loved ones causes our relationships to grow weaker and more distant.

Taking a vacation can be important bonding time with your family, friends, or significant other. In fact, a recent study showed that women who took vacations were happier in their marriages.

5. It Opens Your Mind

When we’re stuck in a mundane work routine, our brains simply aren’t getting enough stimulation. Going on vacation creates new experiences that stimulate different areas of your brain than normal, which is a very good thing.

Neuroscientific studies have proven that “aha” moments come when your brain is in a relaxed state. This means returning to the workplace in a relaxed state of mind will help you be more creative in what you do for a living. 


Maybe you’ve been resisting using those vacation days for fear of wasting your precious time. In reality, working for too long takes away precious time you could be using to improve your health, relationships, and productivity. So what are you waiting for? Schedule that trip you’ve been longing to take. It will do you good.

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