Summer isn’t over yet and I’m already worrying about how I am going to occupy myself during winter and the slight seasonal depression that comes with it. My first thought is to escape to a warm island. Some people are busy planning their winter tropical getaways; however, many are not. They’re not going anywhere, even if they have time available at work.
A new study from the U.S. Travel Association, Oxford Economics and Ipsos revealed that in 2018, 768 million vacation days went unused, which is a surprising 9 percent increase from 2017. America is notorious for being a work, work, work nation, so this doesn’t come as a surprise for me.
So why do Americans skip their paid and unpaid vacation days? I don’t know about you, but the first thing my mind goes to is people are scared to take off because they’ll fall behind at work or be seen as a slacker. I definitely have been groomed to feel this way, and I dread any day I have to take off work—even if it’s for something fun. It’s not just me, though, as I have read multiple articles that point to this trend and have experienced it with coworkers. And of course the economy comes into play, so even if workers would be happy to take off work for a vacation, they simply can’t afford it. There are so many reasons people choose to give back paid vacation days: money, family obligations, not wanting to return to a pile of work, feeling that the team will suffer when they’re gone, anxiety from the lack of connection, and so on.
But did you know there are so many countries around the world where taking vacations is normal? I just spoke to a coworker about her Greek roots that encourage long vacations. Her friend recently got back from a month in Greece and she was able to go for three weeks last year. I have thought for a while that America can take a lesson from other countries when it comes to our work ethic. Yes we need to work to live, but we are not living to work! It is so important to take time for ourselves, even if it’s just an extra day or two. There are endless benefits that come with taking vacations or a simple day off: relaxation, rejuvenation, a break from the stress of daily life and quality time spent with yourself or loved ones, to name a few.
This inevitably brings me to the life motto I have had since I was a tween: live life to the fullest. It may be cliché, but it gets me a long way. Work is important, but we never know when it’s our last day on Earth, so I think it’s essential to take a break from reality when we can.
Have you ever been conflicted about taking time off work even when you had the go? Let me know your thoughts below!