When the eight-hour workday was established in the late 1800s, it was intended to divide workers’ days into three periods: eight hours of work, eight hours of rest, and eight hours of “leisure” (otherwise say, things you like to do). This ideal schedule has slowly metamorphosed into a lot more work, a lot less rest and for most Canadians, very little time to do what we love.
Taking a vacation ‒ without necessarily going on a trip ‒ is the perfect antidote to the realities of modern life. Setting aside time to rest, see or connect with loved ones, and do things for fun can cultivate creativity and bring a spark of joy, and generally allows us to disconnect from the stressors of everyday life. However, many of us do not.
In fact, 31 million vacation days go unused by Canadians every year, according to Expedia’s Vacation Deprivation Study. We are also forced to take only 10 days of vacation per year, while many Europeans have to take 25 or 30!
We North Americans tend to live to work rather than work to live, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic , when those of us who have been fortunate enough to keep our jobs feel guilty or don’t deserve to take a vacation right now, or feel like they don’t have time. And since we can’t go anywhere, it would be wise to save our vacation days to travel when it’s possible again, right? It’s wrong.
We encourage you to take some time off from work this summer if you can. Here’s why :
1. You need a break.
No matter what impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on you, you are most likely tired, stressed and emotionally drained. The past few months have also been busy for most Canadians, where we have had to juggle work or job hunting, children and household chores, and the burden of having to keep pace with ever-changing planet.
Even though we often confuse stress with success, repeat this to yourself: stress is not a mark of honor . You must take care of your health, both mental and physical, in particular by resting. If you feel guilty doing this, then replace the word “rest” with the more active synonym “recovery,” as licensed social worker Melody Wilding recently mentioned to The Huffington Post.
2. Rest is associated with many health benefits.
Many studies have linked taking vacations to a variety of health benefits , including reduced stress levels, enhanced immune response, improved sleep, and even reduced risk of heart disease. Can you name a single downside associated with taking vacations when your health and well-being are at stake? Probably not!
3. You will work better when you return to work.
Those who take vacations are more creative, more emotionally stable, and more productive at work, and actually take fewer sick days than their workaholic colleagues.
4. Your family and friends will benefit.
This principle seems obvious, but taking a vacation restores our sense of well-being, which allows us to be better parents, roommates, family members and friends. In fact, a study conducted by the Arizona Department of Health and Human Services found that women who take vacations are more satisfied with their relationships.
5. You will reap the benefits immediately.
Studies have shown that the wave of happiness felt when we book our vacation can last up to eight weeks before it arrives. So do your future self a favor by booking your summer vacation now.