Vacation days don’t have to all be defined by white, sandy beaches and bottomless buffets. Whether you have the odd vacation day hovering over your calendar or unused 10 paid days off glistening in your future, you should plan on using every single hour allotted.
In 2020, our dining table became the conference table, our work days became an hour longer. As flights were grounded our vacation days went largely ignored. One survey found that “40% outright cancelled a vacation and 23% postponed their vacation,” as the COVID pandemic spread. But pushing time off to the backburner isn’t a new trend. In 2018, American workers failed to use 768 million days of PTO, according to a trend report published by the U.S. Travel Association.
Feeling stressed or just need an extra long, uninterrupted bath? It may be time to take a break, and lucky for you, you have PTO to use. Besides catching your breath and changing the scenery, here are a handful of reasons why you should use your vacation days.
Work stress can feel like a defeating, relentless fog. Curb stress that stunts quality of work by stepping away. The American Psychology Association reports, “The majority of working Americans reported positive effects of taking vacation time and said when they return to work … they have more energy (66 percent) and ... and feel less stressed (57 percent).” But this doesn’t mean an elaborate escapade to an entirely different landscape is required to destress. A day off traversing a sculpture garden or lounging under a lens of cucumber slices can be just as effective.
Better Productivity and Creativity
In a study conducted by Stanford it was found that “walking opens up the free flow of ideas, and it is a simple and robust solution to the goals of increasing creativity and increasing physical activity.” An afternoon trek through a wooded landscape, inhaling crisp air, and meditating to the chirps of birds could make room for louder, creative ideas back at the desk.
Taking Care of Yourself
Zoom fatigue is real, and it’s cramping our self care style. According to a poll, “Seventy-six percent of U.S. adults rate their mental health positively, representing a nine-point decline from 2019.” This steep decline indicates that work-work-work and no play is making everyone feel dull. Use your vacation days to eat breakfast in bed, in the middle of the week, to work on the most pressing agenda: yourself.
Normalize a healthy work-life balance
Jeff Bezos is credited to writing in Invent & Wander: The Collected Writings of Jeff Bezos, that he doesn’t schedule meetings before 10 a.m. to allow time to “putter” as reported by Inc. Establish boundaries between work life and life-life, especially if there’s a crossover under your own roof. Utilizing your vacation days as short, frequent breaks is like adding kale to a smoothie. It’s a boost to the system. So lounge later than your sandwich lasts at lunch. Take the afternoon to organize the closet whose mess haunts you between Zoom calls. Take care of the personal and then return to the professional agenda without the weight of an after work to-do list.
When you use your vacation days, your heart will thank you. “Men at risk for heart disease who skipped vacations for five consecutive years were30 percent more likely to suffer heart attacksthan those who took at least a week off each year,” Inc. reports. This may not be an official prescription by an MD, but it is a highly encouraged recommendation to get a long weekend approved by HR, and begin learning a new language over take out from a fresh French bistro. For the sake of your physical wellbeing, s’il vous plaît!
Sorbet is a first-of-its-kind employee wellness platform for the new normal that encourages and incentivizes professionals to make the most of their Paid Time Off. Our AI-generated personalized Time Off Optimizer empowers professionals to take meaningful time off to destress, recharge, avoid burnout, and improve performance. For more information about Sorbet, visit https://www.getsorbet.com/.