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Why You Actually Need to Use Your Vacation Time

By Heather Taylor When was the last time you went on vacation? If it feels like it has been a while, you’re not alone. According to 2017’s The State of American Vacation report by Project: Time Off, we’re earning more vacation time but still leaving it unused on the table—to the tune of 662 million days off lost per year. And in addition, 26 percent of those surveyed admitted they feared appearing less dedicated to work if they take a vacation.

While many of us working in editorial are concerned about job security, that doesn’t mean it should trump our human need to recharge. It’s time to start using—not losing—your vacation time and recognizing the incredible wellness benefits it provides both in and out of the office. To convince you to buy that plane ticket, we talked to experts about how a trip can actually make you healthier.

Physically: it’s a guilt-free way to get in shape.
That doesn’t mean you need to spend your vacation glued to your Fitbit or obsessing over your calorie intake. Think of it this way: the reality of being a 21st century worker means being connected all day to multiple devices, which gives us a “spinning” brain, according to TEDx speaker and contributor to the Harvard Business Review Maura Thomas. As a result, we’re up late at night, trying to manage the details of our lives and figure out how to get everything done. We wake up exhausted the next day, grab a latte for fuel, and start the unhealthy cycle all over again. By taking a break, you’re keeping yourself in better shape than you realize because you’re resting and making more conscious decisions. In fact, studies have shown vacations are good for your weight and cardiovascular health, help lower your blood pressure, and may even aid in recovery from diseases like cancer. (Now that makes sitting on the beach with a Mai Tai sound even more appealing!)

Mentally: your success ultimately hinges on going on vacation.
All work and no play makes Jane feel exhausted too soon into her career. That’s why Dr. Amanda Holdsworth at CommunicatED Consulting encourages her millennial employees to make the most of their time off. “When I was their age, I rarely took vacations and would burn out within a year or two and then switch jobs,” she says. She believes employees who come back from time off feel more refreshed and appreciative of where they work.

Moreover, taking a vacation can also be a strategic career move. A change from the everyday can provides clarity in thought, new attitudes, and a much-needed imaginative boost. “Your success depends in part on the wisdom, experience, and unique perspective that you bring to your work,” Thomas says. “Your supply of unique creativity is not endless, and taking the time to recharge it means increased productivity and better results when you return.”

Heather Taylor is a former entertainment writer turned brand mascot aficionado (and head writer) for Advertising Week’s Icon Blog. She been published on HelloGiggles, Brit + Co, The Drum, and BettyConfidential. Find her on Twitter @howveryheather.

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