There's a certain amount of trepidation that goes into asking for time off. Even if you've rightfully accrued your hours and are giving ample notice, there's a lingering sense of unease that's all too common. In fact, an astounding 55% of Americans don't fully use their time off. Employees may feel uncomfortable taking time off for a variety of reasons. What if their manager views them as uninvested in their work or even ungrateful to have work? Senior employees might even feel their job can't be managed by another in their absence or that their work simply can't go untouched for two weeks. The pros of taking vacation time, however, absolutely outweigh any perceived cons. Vacation time isn't a perk—it's a necessity. Keep reading for four reasons you shouldn't let any of those vacation hours go to waste.
Recharge and Refocus
One of the most overlooked reasons to go ahead and take that vacation time is this: You'll come back refocused and recharged. Imagine you're approaching a piece of paper with text on it. You can get so close to the page that it becomes impossible to read. At work, we end up viewing our day-to-day tasks with tunnel vision, but taking a step back and shifting our focus entirely allows those perceived challenges to fall away. There's something about disengaging completely from an obstacle for a substantial period that lets you come back and pick out a solution that now seems plain. Think of your vacation time as an extended lunch break.
Gain a Fresh Perspective
A full-time job quickly becomes a part of our everyday routine, and from a routine, habits are created. The problem with these habits is that they become so simple to accomplish and so automatic that we stop viewing them with a critical lens. Taking vacation time helps break this spell when it comes to your job. It allows you to critically assess your work and the direction it's pulling you in. Maybe there are other areas within your job you'd like to flex a bit more muscle in or learn more about—or maybe it's time to switch up career paths entirely. Whatever satisfaction means to you, it's always worth checking in with your work goals from a big picture perspective and not getting trapped in the monotony—however comfortable it may be—of the habitual. Vacation time can lend you some of tmuch-needededed space to take a step back.
Reap the Health Benefits
This likely doesn't come as a shock, but taking your vacation time not only allows you indulge in a bit of fun, but it's actually good for you. We all know the perils of being overworked and overstressed. Chronic stress has a negative impact on your immunity, can increase memory loss, and throw off your sleep cycle. Using that vacation time can quickly reverse these effects and allow your body to regenerate. A study from UC San Francisco actually showed that taking vacation time provided similar health benefits to meditation, lowering stress and boosting the immune system in a remarkably short span of time.
Shorten That Bucket List
I remember for years—years—if anyone asked me what country I wanted to visit the most, the answer came automatically: Japan. I had been saying it for so long, I doubted whether it would ever happen. Then one day a friend dropped in casual conversation that he saw round trip tickets to Tokyo for $500, and I literally could feel the heat radiating from the lightbulb above my head: I was going to Japan. I had the funds, and, yes, I had the vacation time. There's something so fulfilling about finally crossing off that dream destination from a bucket list. If there's any reason to use your vacation time, it's to pursue those micro-accomplishments that hold great significance to you.
Keep reading to learn why unlimited vacation days should be a must for employees.