Boston Globe

WHY ARE AMERICANS SO AFRAID OF VACATION?
by Christopher Muther / April 1, 2016

Over the past five years Briana Volk and her husband Andrew opened a popular cocktail bar in Portland, Maine, had a baby, and Briana launched her own marketing business. Despite all they achieved, there was one task the couple never found time to complete — take a vacation.

“We’re good at getting into the trap of working all the time. So stepping away from that felt a little selfish. We both felt we always needed to be working,” Volk said.

Here are some more statistics to chew on as you worry that you’re spending too much time reading this story at the expense of finishing another spreadsheet for tomorrow’s big meeting. The more vacation you take, the less stressed you’ll feel. It may sound like common sense, but a report from the Families and Work Institute showed lower stress levels in individuals who took more than six consecutive days of vacation, and stress levels dipped even further among those who took 13 consecutive days. The lesson here is don’t be afraid to take those two weeks of roll-over days all at once.

According to Ellen Galinsky, president of the Institute, those who take longer vacations even showed fewer signs of depression. She was also quick to point out that more vacation results in better family relationships.

“I did a study called ‘Ask the Children,’ where I asked kids about the impact of their mother’s and father’s work on their lives,” Galinsky said. “Their one wish was not necessarily to have more time with their parents, but that their parents would be less stressed and less tired.”

Knowing that skipping vacation stifles creativity, creates health problems, leads to stress, depression, and less-than-ideal home lives, it seems as if companies would make vacation enforcement a priority. But with a few exceptions, the experts say that is not happening. Vacation skipping is a topic that’s often swept under the keyboard.

“If you see people you admire most in your organization taking, loving, and talking about having a wonderful time on their vacations, that’s an important step toward changing the culture,” said Galinsky. “You also see nothing bad is happening to them as a result of taking time off. It’s an example people would then follow.”

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