Working full time is exhausting. Not only are you plugging away hours in the office, but you also have a personal life to maintain. The stress of juggling these obligations can become overwhelming if you don’t give yourself a second to breathe.
In fact, working too much without breaks can be damaging to one’s mental health. Stress and anxiety levels rise when one spends too much time in the office and not enough time focusing on one’s self. Taking paid time off from work improves productivity in the workplace and allows for a more balanced life.
According to Web MD, people who take vacations from work have lower stress and less risk of heart disease, not to mention a better outlook on life and more motivation.
These trips do not have to be extravagant vacations to Paris. Planning a day trip or weekend trip will give you something to look forward to, as well as time to de-stress and unwind.
The health industry in particular is a stressful environment to work in. Employees who dedicate their lives to taking care of other people often take on the burden of their patients’ stress and hardships.
It is essential for those people working in healthcare to take time to recharge and spend time on themselves.
“Taking time away from work and routine allows the body to replenish and repair itself,” says Karen Matthews of Mind Body Center at the University of Pittsburgh, quoted on npr.com.
The center surveyed 1,399 participants and found that leisure activities, including vacations, contribute to higher positive emotional levels and less depression.
Despite the health benefits of paid time off, many employees do not use all of their vacation days.
According to USA TODAY, a 2009 International Vacation Deprivation Study, commissioned by travel service company Expedia, found that more than 30 percent of Americans did not use all of their vacation days.
One of the major reasons Americans leave vacation days unused is the fear of losing their jobs, according to CNN.
Evren Esen is the manager of the Society for Human Resource Management’s survey research center, which looks at the prevalence of paid time off banks.
Although the United States is the only developed country in the world without a legally required paid vacation day or holiday, Esen told CNBC paid time off is a benefit that employees should take advantage of.
“I would say especially for vacation time, that employees should utilize that time because the organization is giving them that time so they can rest and relax and come back to work refreshed.”
For example, according to Time Magazine, A 2009 study in Harvard Business Review showed that requiring business consultants to take time off every week actually boosted their productivity.
So give yourself a chance to breathe and unwind every so often. Your company understands and encourages the use of paid time off and your mind and body will thank you.
Hilary Burns is a recent graduate of Wake Forest University from Cape Cod, Mass. Hilary has a passion for storytelling and has been published in multiple national publications including USA TODAY, Huffington Post and USAirways Magazine. She will start her journalism career this July in Charlotte, N.C. When she isn’t writing or editing, Hilary is in a yoga class or planning a future dream trip to Europe.