Do you have vacation days piling up? If so, you’re not alone. According to a recent report from Bankrate.com, more than half of American workers left at least some of their paid vacation days unused last year. While many employees worry that taking time off might hurt their jobs, the truth is that working without a break is the true enemy of your career. Here are five reasons why leaving work behind for a while is beneficial not only for your health, but also for your job performance.
You’ll Be Less Stressed
At one point or another, every job involves some level of stress. Stress has a negative impact on your body and mind, making you more susceptible to illness, affecting your digestive system and even altering the genetic material in your body’s cells. Taking time off can help end stress buildup by removing you from the stressful environment.
While you might worry that the work will pile up while you’re away, creating even more stress, the truth is that taking a vacation is more likely to leave you reinvigorated and ready to take on challenges with fresh energy. Unplugging completely is ideal, but it’s OK to check your email while you’re gone, as long as you allot only a small amount of time to doing so.
You’ll Get a Productivity Boost
Taking time away from work to relax and unwind doesn’t mean you’ll find yourself behind when you get back to your desk. In fact, a study Ernst & Young conducted of their own employees found that for every additional 10 hours of vacation time taken, year-end performance ratings increased by 8 percent. In other words, taking a longer break from work leads to improved productivity when you return. A happy, rejuvenated worker equals improved work performance.
Your Health Will Benefit
You know that taking a vacation might make you more relaxed and happy for the moment, but you may not know that it can also have some positive long-term effects on your health. According to a study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, engaging in leisure activities is linked to lower blood pressure, lower levels of stress hormones and a smaller waistline.
Your Creativity Will Flow
If you work in a position that requires problem solving and innovative thinking, chances are you’ll hit a creative wall every now and then. Taking time off will not only refresh your body but also help reinvigorate your ability to think creatively. According to Robert Kriegel, author of “How to Succeed in Business Without Working So Damn Hard,” workers often get their best ideas while away from their jobs.
You’ll Strengthen Your Relationships
Strained relationships at home can impair your work performance — and likewise, work stress can affect your family life. Going on a getaway is a great way to address both issues because it gives you time to strengthen your bonds with your significant other and family, leaving you ready to head back to work confident in your relationships and support system.
If you’re worried that taking a vacation will hurt your career, don’t. The truth is that spending time away from work relaxing, enjoying fun activities, sightseeing or just spending quality time with loved ones can make you healthier, happier and ultimately better at your job.