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The word “vacation” conjures images of sandy beaches and time spent relaxing, but for many of us vacation remains a dream rather than a reality. In 2017, workers used less than half of their paid vacation, amounting to 212 million days of vacation time lost. This trend is hurting us, both personally and professionally.

Here are five important reasons you need to use your vacation time:

Vacation reduces stress levels.

Whether you go away or stay home, stepping away from work (that means no checking emails!) has been proven to reduce stress and the physical symptoms of stress. Taking vacation days can reduce back pain and headaches, and these benefits can last for weeks after you return to your desk.

Vacations reduce cardiovascular risks.vacation_2

Heart attacks are one the leading killers of adults and putting aside your vacation time can put you at greater risk for having one. Skipping your vacation for five consecutive years can increase your heart attack risk by 30%.

Time off leads to better sleep.

With long hours, looming deadlines, and other work worries, it’s no wonder that your job can lead to poor sleep. This in turn leads to impaired memory and alertness and a higher rate of mistakes and accidents. When you take vacation time, you’re stepping away from these factors that impair your sleep, allowing you to reset your body’s rhythms and create better sleep habits.

Not working makes you work better.

The constant push to work longer hours and get more done can actually impede your ability to work productively. Taking breaks, especially longer breaks such as a vacation, allow your body and mind to reset, which makes you happier and more productive when you return to work. Studies have shown as much as an 8% performance increase for every 10 hours of vacation time you take.

vacation_3Vacations make you more creative.

Travel is a great way you open your mind and expand your thinking. This creativity is reflected in your work. Even just taking the time to step away from a problem allows you to approach it with fresh eyes upon your return.

There are many reasons for not taking time off, but skipping vacation time can be detrimental to your well-being and job performance. Taking the time to rest and recharge can make a big difference – so be sure to use your vacation time this year!

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