Americans take fewer vacation days each year than people in other countries do, even when those vacation days are paid. In fact, Americans allow 429 million paid vacation days each year go by without being used. The problem is, that when we step away from work it doesn’t mean that the work actually stops coming, and in fact it can actually build up and cause us more stress when we get back and have to attend to it. Not to mention the fact that we often end up working while we are on vacation anyway.

But the thing is, that we should be using our vacation days anyway. Taking a vacation away from work will actually help you recharge and refocus if you can let go of the fact that you aren’t going to be able to control every single thing that happens while you are gone.

One study that was done in 2013 by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 75 percent of HT professionals claimed that their employees who took time off were better at overall performance.

According to the clinical psychologist Deborah Mulhern, we need to take vacations to learn to relax so that we’re actually capable of separating out relaxation from the rest of our life.

“Without time and opportunity to [relax], the neural connections that produce feelings of calm and peacefulness become weaker, making it actually more difficult to shift into less-stressed modes.”

When you put it like it’s no wonder so many people have trouble unplugging and relaxing at the end of a busy day.

Some people of fearful of taking their vacation days because they feel like they might get passed over when it come time for raises to be handed out at work. Some studies have found that not only is that true, that in some cases taking some time away is exactly what you need to do to show people how important you actually are in your position. If they don’t realize how much work you do around the office, they certainly will be reminded of it when you don’t show up and they are scrambling to figure out how you do it all.

Taking vacation days off from work can actually help keep you healthier which will cut down on the sick days that you take later on. Men who take vacations from work are less likely to have heart disease down the line, and women who take vacations from work are less likely to be depressed.

Taking time off from work can actually help to stimulate your creativity levels, which in turn could make you more productive later. Some of the biggest thinkers on the planet rely on their time away from work to free up their creativity. Bill Gates is known for taking “think weeks” with those intentions, and a lot of other people get big ideas on vacation as well. Kevin Systrom came up with the concept for Instagram while he was on vacation, and Drew Houston was traveling when he came up with the idea of Dropbox. We know how those ideas worked out.

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