Family Life: For good health and strong relationships, use vacation days

Family Life: For good health and strong relationships, use vacation days

By Chelsey Byers

As I was driving to work the other day, the radio announcer was reading a recent report about some statistics on Americans and our use of vacation days. I was appalled at the number of people who don't use all or even any of their paid vacation time. I am a firm believer in taking vacation days for either the "I need a mental health day" to take care of other life projects or for a getaway for rest and relaxation as well as a little adventure.

Once I arrived at work, I decided to look up the report. Here is what the employment website Glassdoor reported about working Americans:

— Only 25 percent of people who get paid time off used all of their vacation days.

— Fifteen percent of people who get paid time off did not use any of their vacation time.

— When employees take vacation time, more than 60 percent do some work while away from work.

— Also, 22 percent of Americans don't get paid vacation time.

According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the United States is the only substantially developed nation that doesn't require that employers offer paid vacation time.

Being overworked often leads to feeling overly stressed. When the body is overly stressed, it will tell us through symptoms such as: irritability, fatigue, anxiousness, insomnia, inability to concentrate, memory loss and eye strain.

Stress can cause us to be more accident prone as well as possibly make poor decisions. Being overly stressed for a long time can lead to bigger and more serious health problems. Chronic stress will take its toll on the body through a variety of ways: depression, hair loss, high blood pressure, notable weight gain or loss, digestive issues, etc. Any and all of these things lead to less productivity.

Also, when thinking about symptoms like irritability and fatigue, how do these affect our relationships with our significant others, children, friends and co-workers?

Vacations can often help break the stress cycle. Many will say, "There is too much to do" or "I will be more behind and more stressed." However, once refreshed, people usually have a better attitude about their job, a clearer mind and are more productive compared to when they try to bulldog through their work without time off.

Taking time off doesn't mean you have to take a week off at a time or that you have to travel somewhere and spend lots of money. Take a couple of long weekends throughout the year. Take a random day off in the middle of the week. Make your time off a staycation. Spend your time reading a book, catching up on projects around the home or just taking some time for rest and relaxation.

Another option is to take advantage of what is offered in your own town or nearby city and explore your own community. Use the vacation time and invest it in time spent with friends or family members.

Vacations offer us so many things: time for rest and relaxation, time for personal development and time for exploration. Choose whichever combo feeds the soul.

Researchers from Purdue University report that an important benefit of vacation time is time to renew bonds with our families. Through the shared experiences, we strengthen and foster our familial connections.

You are not doing anyone a favor by not taking time off. People suffer similarly from lack of sleep as they do from lack of play. Both of these impact your health resistance and overall well-being. Vacations can help prevent job burnout, can improve job productivity, promote creativity and most of all reduce and relieve stress.

Take your vacation days; sometimes it really is that plain and simple.

For more information on family life-related topics visit web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/ or contact Chelsey Byers at 217-333-7672 or clbyers@illinois.edu.

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