One of the benefits of working in a position for longer is that you rack up more vacation days over time. This is obviously a big benefit that employees claim to care about, and one of the factors that is often discussed during the hiring process. So why is a company associated with the U.S. Travel Association, Project: Time Off, reporting that there were more than 700 million days of vacation that weren’t taken by employees last year? 

We spend so much time dreaming about the places we want to go, and getting jealous over our friends’ and colleagues’ social media posts of beautiful destinations and adventures, that it doesn’t make sense that only about half of paid time off is even used.

Some people fear that they’ll never be able to catch up on work if they take time off, or, on the other hand, that the company will run just fine without them. Basically, we are worried that we will be missed too much, or not at all. 

Regardless of the reasons why we might feel that we can’t—or shouldn’t—take our full vacation time, it would really be better for everyone if we did. Taking personal time to recharge and enjoy ourselves has a host of benefits that shouldn’t be ignored or forgotten. Consider the following: 

#1: Time Away from Work Can Improve Your Health 

Most employees report having some level of stress from their job; and while stress can be positive in small doses, when we have too much of it we can experience some serious side effects, including depression, fatigue, irritability, and, in some cases, stroke or heart failure. 

It’s no secret that when we feel better, we work better. Taking time off prevents burnout, and allows you to come back refreshed. This not only means improved mental and physical conditions, but, as a result, higher productivity and overall work quality.  

#2: New Experiences Stimulate Your Creativity 

When we go to a new place or try a new activity we see things from a new perspective; experiencing new cultures literally exposes us to new ways of thinking. All of a sudden a resolution to that problem that you have been racking your brain about for the last quarter will become clear. And it doesn’t matter what industry you are in, everyone can benefit from creative problem solving. 

#3: Personal Time Increases Your Happiness 

It sounds obvious, but vacations make you happier—and it’s not just the time that you spend lying on the beach, or skiing the slopes, but also the time that you spend planning it, and then remembering it once you return. Vacation is a time that you can choose to do whatever it is you love, and to be with the ones that matter the most to you, after all, you can’t get those years back. 

So, Where To? 

Companies can see the benefits of their employees taking time for themselves in their bottom line. In fact, vacation time improves profitability so much that many companies have tried different ways to incentivize their employees to take it, either by offering unlimited time off, or literally giving cash bonuses. 

Bottom line? You’ve earned it, you deserve it, and you’ll benefit even more from taking it. So stop what you’re doing and plan that trip you’ve always talked about. 

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