By Allison AubreyWGBH News 8/20/18
As a nation, we could do a better job at taking time off.
About half of full-time workers recently surveyed by the U.S. Travel Association didn’t take all the paid vacation days they earned last year.
More than 700 million vacation days went unused and we forfeited about 200 million of those days — when vacation benefits didn’t roll over. On average, American workers took almost six fewer vacation days than we earned.
If you’re among this group, you could be missing out on some of the benefits of leisure time.
It may seem obvious that vacation makes us feel good, but its health benefits are, in fact, measurable. For instance one study finds engaging in more frequent enjoyable leisure activities, including vacation, is linked to improvements in mood, sleep and blood pressure, and can help buffer “the negative psychological impact of stress.”
There’s also research to suggest regular vacationers may get a longevity boost. One line of evidence comes from a study of men who were at high risk of heart disease. Men who regularly took an annual vacation had a reduced risk of death during the study period.
For decades, the vacation trend line was steady. From 1978 to 2000, Americans averaged 20.3 days of vacation per year, including paid holidays. But, during this century, there’s been a steady decline. In 2014, Americans took about 16 days a year. Now, it’s bounced back up to about 17 days a year.
Unplug, like, really unplug
Despite best intentions, technology makes it incredibly easy to peek at what’s happening at work. Vacation pros don’t let that happen.
“I delete all business apps, email account apps, social apps, and news apps from my phone and tablet,” says Lorang. He says when he goes on vacation, “I load up on e-books and music, and sometimes I’ll even hand over my device to my wife to avoid checking anything prior to leaving.”
To force herself to truly unplug, Jenny Radesky, a pediatrician at the University of Michigan, has used this out-of-office reply: “I am away from the office and my children have made me promise that
I won’t check e-mail.”
“People replied and said they loved it!” Radesky says.
To read the full article, published on www.wgbh.org, click on the title link.