Every year Americans are entitled to 175 million vacation days that they don’t take. That’s a stat that we’ve thrown around a few times lately, but it’s worth repeating. 175 Million! Vacation guilt is an epidemic that is both keeping people from taking the vacations that they’re entitled to and spoiling what few vacations they take.
According to a recent Monster.com survey, only 27% of people said that they were able to put thoughts of work completely out of their mind while on vacation. If you’re part of the majority that ruin your vacations by thinking about work, here are five reasons why you should set your guilt aside and give yourself the break you deserve.
1. You are entitled to your vacation
If you’re a full-time employee, chances are you have vacation time written into your contract. Vacation is part of your compensation package and is a right that you are entitled to. If your boss tries to give you the old “I know you still have a few vacation days, but now just isn’t the right time,” don’t let him/her get away with it. Of course, you’ll want to make sure that you clear your vacation with your boss in advance to avoid creating any problems, but don’t let work demands keep you from enjoying the benefits that are legally yours.
2. Vacation is good for your health and happiness
There are tons of surveys on the link between employee happiness and regular vacation. Vacation is a chance to enjoy time with the friends and family that you don’t get to see enough during your regular work schedule. It’s also a chance to have new experiences, explore your creativity, and enjoy the pursuits that you are most passionate about. Chances are that when your vacation is finished, you’ll not only be less stressed about your job, but to also be happier to do it and more productive at it.
3. Bosses take vacation, too
If you’re stuck in a workplace culture where the bosses make employees feel guilty about using their vacation days, keep this statistic in mind: According to a 2012 Careerbuilder survey, 81% of managers plan to take vacations while just 65% of their employees plan to do the same.
4. Vacation not used may be vacation lost
Double check your contract. If it says that you lose the right to vacation days not taken any given calendar year, you better make sure that you take every vacation day that you’re entitled to. Taking all your vacation doesn’t make you a lazy employee. In fact, it makes you a more productive, smarter employee. If you don’t get compensated for vacation days you don’t use, any vacation day you fail to take is essentially a day of your life that you’re giving to your company for free. Even if you’re extremely passionate about the work you do, everyone deserves a few days off a year to enjoy pursuits outside of the business world.
5. Your best ideas come to you when you’re relaxing
If you’re worried about not being productive while you’re on vacation, think about the last time that you had a great idea. Were you sitting at your desk when lightning struck, or were you perhaps in the shower or working in your garden? Our most innovative ideas tend to come to us when we’re relaxed, because that’s when our subconscious minds have a chance to break through. Who knows? You may just come up with a brilliant idea for workplace culture change or a new product offering while sitting on the beach in Jamaica…