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Now is the time to use those vacation days that have been accumulating all year.

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Throughout most of the pandemic, the term “vacation days” took on a whole new meaning for many people. You may have wondered whether it was acceptable to take days off for something other than a necessity when you were already working from home. And with restrictions in place due to COVID-19, you likely didn’t have anywhere to go anyway so you just skipped taking those days off.

It turns out that many people left vacation days on the table in 2020. Even in pre-pandemic times, U.S. workers fell short on using their earned vacation days – in fact, one study by Glassdoor in 2017 found 54% of vacation days in the U.S. went unused and 66% of people reported doing work during the vacation days they did take.

People have cited worries about being replaced or getting behind on their work as reasons vacation days go unused. Many say they would take more time off if they felt supported and encouraged by their boss. But don’t think that working more instead of vacationing is the key to a long, successful life. In fact, skipping vacations may have a steeper cost than you think when it comes to your health and well-being. And after the year many of us have had, it’s never been more important to focus on our health and well-being.

Now that summer is here and COVID-19 restrictions are easing or have been eliminated, it’s time to take some time off to relax, have fun and maybe even travel. After all, you’ve got those vacation days coming to you. You’ve earned them, whether you were working from home or at the office, so they are yours to take.

Here are three excellent reasons to get some much-deserved R&R:

      • You’ll zap stress. It makes sense that getting away from the busyness of everyday life can lower stress, but the benefits may last long after you return to work. Taking vacation may reduce stress-related physical ailments such as headaches, backaches and heart palpitations even weeks after you get back to work, according to research. Managing stress is associated with a healthier lifestyle and a decreased risk of heart disease, so a stress-reducing vacation is good for your health in more ways than one.
      • You may live longer. The Framingham Heart Study found that the frequency of women’s vacations was connected to their future risk of heart disease. The study followed women for two decades and showed that those who took vacations once every 6 years or less were almost 8 times more likely to have a heart attack or die from coronary disease compared to women who took 2 or more vacations each year.
      • You might even weigh less. While no one can guarantee you’ll be slimmer simply because you went on vacation, a study at the University of Pittsburgh showed that participants who spent the most time engaged in leisure activities had a lower body mass index (BMI) and smaller waist circumference. That’s a good enough reason to get away and have some fun, don’t you think?

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Date Last Reviewed: May 18, 2021

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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