by Jessie S.
Whether you hate your job or have the greatest job in the world, using your vacation days is important for your mental health. Even if you are not a full-time worker, work from home, or you are a student, you need to get away once in a while. Unfortunately, even though workers have some paid vacation days available, there is a growing trend of people skipping out on their vacation resulting in a condition known as vacation deprivation.
Americans Suffer from Vacation Deprivation
Every year, Expedia.com issues an annual Vacation Deprivation study in which it analyzes vacation trends among workers in 19 different countries. According to the 2018 study, US workers receive an average of 14 days of vacation per year but only use an average of 10 of those days – the lowest number in the world (Japan and Thailand share this bottom spot in the list). In comparison, Brazil, France, Germany, and Spain receive and use an average of 30 days per year. This is alarming in itself but there are several other current vacation trends revealed in the study that are concerning:
- The average person lets four (4) vacation days go to waste each year
- 25% of people check in on work at least once a day while on vacation
- Two (2) Vacation days per year on average are used for running errands
- It takes an average 2-3 days before a person on vacation starts to feel relaxed
- 58% of workers across the globe claim that they are vacation deprived (a percentage that has risen from 49% in 2016)
Is Lack of Vacation Really an Issue?
These stats are more alarming when you consider how many hours a week the average American actually works. In 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average American works around 44 hours per week. A 2018 Gallup poll reported that 32% of people report working 45-59 hours a week and 12% report working over 60 hours a week. To add insult to injury, the Gallup poll also revealed that 67% of people reported their commute takes longer than 30 minutes per day with 18% of those people stating their commute is over 90 minutes every day. Of those surveyed, 14% report having two or more jobs. These folks also admitted to checking their work email outside of work pretty often – 36% said they do so frequently while 27% said they do so occasionally. Worse yet, 56% of workers report replying to these work emails outside of work with 31% believing their career could be negatively affected if they didn’t.
Stress in the workplace leads to serious burnout and the feeling of being overwhelmed. It can also lead to unhappiness with your job, general anxiety and irritability. This extreme negativity makes it much harder to isolate your bad mood to the office so most Americans end up bringing that stress home to negatively impact their home life. An article published by the American Psychological Association (APA) states that stress can lead to bad coping habits, depression, and has even been linked to increased cardiovascular health risks. Sudden emotional stress, even just temporary stress, can trigger minor physical changes in your body like headaches and excess perspiration. What's more frightening is that this can also trigger serious physical conditions like heart attacks and arrhythmias. In addition, stress is a major cause of sleep deprivation. According to a study in The Lancet (a peer-reviewed scientific journal) in 2015, working in excess of 55 hours can increase your risk of stroke up to 3x higher over someone who works standard hours. For more information about the effects of stress on the body, read this APA article.
Why Don’t We Use Our Vacation Time?
The US Travel Association released a report in 2016 titled “Project: Time Off – State of American Vacation.” In this report, they cited a Glassdoor survey in which workers were asked what job benefit was most important to them. Healthcare plans topped the list (40% said this was the most important benefit), but vacation time was not far behind at 37%. This overshadowed performance bonuses, sick days and retirement plans. So, if Americans want vacation days, why aren’t they using them? The main reasons cited for not using vacation days are a mix of the following:
- "I can’t afford a vacation."
- "No one else can do my job."
- "I don’t want to return to a huge pile of work."
- "I will be skipped for a promotion/my boss will be upset."
- "I won’t seem dedicated to my job."
Experts suggest that to overcome these worries, planning ahead is the key. If you've already spoken to your team and put it on the calendar, you're more likely to actually take the vacation. To avoid coming back to a huge pile of work or to stop worrying about your job getting done, creating a back-up plan for your co-workers for each of the days you are gone will make taking a trip feel more manageable. After all, if all it takes for your company to be completely destroyed is you stepping away a couple days, it might be time to explore a new career. If you really don't think you can get away for a full week or it will take a while to save up for a big trip, taking one or two days off at the end or beginning of the week allows for an extended weekend getaway - a great time for a mini-recharge.
Benefits of Taking Vacation
Despite these facts about the lack of vacation taken, Americans do understand that vacation is important. In fact, 91% of Americans believe vacation helps alleviate stress and anxiety. 82% also said that once they return from vacation, they are more patient with their colleagues and clients. 90% of those surveyed even said that regular vacations improved their home life by helping them feel better connected to their friends and family. Are these benefits all in our heads?
Studies have actually shown that vacation is incredibly important for your health. According to Mary B. Smith, PhD, licensed psychologist, taking vacation has four main benefits: 1) improving physical health, 2) boosting mental health, 3) enhancing job performance, and 4) deepening family bonds. In other words, your work and home life will improve and so will your physical and mental health. Studies have even shown that simply planning for a vacation can improve your happiness because when we know a vacation is upcoming, our mental health can benefit up to 8 weeks before the trip. These mental boosts help to alleviate stress and improve our overall outlook. Read our article about how vacation deprivation affects your health.
Not only is regular vacation good for your health but most companies encourage vacation knowing it is good for their business. Reports have found that giving employees vacation time actually leads to more productivity at work. Not only does it help avoid burnout but it can promote creativity and efficiency. To combat lack of vacation, some companies take "disconnecting" very seriously. The company TED (of the well-known TED talks seminars) shuts down two weeks every summer and has been doing so since 2009 for the benefit of the company and their employees. Adobe is another company jumping on that trend - they shut down a week in the summer and a week in the winter to give everyone - from entry-level interns to top-level executives - a much needed break. These shutdowns are provided separate from the allotted holiday, sick/personal days, and vacation time that are provided to their employees.
Pack Your Bags and Head to the Beach
Have we convinced you that it's time to pack your bags and take a trip? Luckily, we know just the place for you to take your next vacation. The Outer Banks is perfect for your next trip whether you need a quick weekend getaway or you're planning a full weeklong family beach vacation. Seaside Vacations has hundreds of awesome vacation rentals to choose from and we know you won’t be disappointed when you visit our pristine beaches. From lighthouses and historic landmarks to scenic waterside drives and top-of-the-line golf courses, there is something here for everyone! Families, foodies, adventurers and wildlife lovers will all love visiting the #1 Best Family Beach and creating their very own Outer Banks Moment.
Why wait any longer to use those hard-earned vacation days? Click the button below and start planning your vacation!
Jessie has been coming to the Outer Banks since she was just 5 years old. She loved it here so much that she finally relocated in 2018. Now her mission is to show the world that the Outer Banks is an incredible place that everyone should experience. When she isn't working, you can find Jessie hanging out with her friends, chilling at home with her awesome cat, Yoji, or discovering a new Outer Banks adventure.