One of the benefits that comes with most jobs is paid time off: vacation time. However, many American workers are forgoing their vacations, citing job responsibilities and other reasons, to the tune of over 200 million vacation days lost in 2017. However, science shows that taking your vacation time is beneficial, in more ways than one.

Physical Benefits

shutterstock_734812891Taking time off from work has a variety of physical benefits to improve your health and mood. Vacations have been shown to:

  • Reduce stress-related pain, such as headaches and backaches, for as much as five weeks after you return from your vacation.
  • Improve your sleep, allowing your body to return to regular, healthy sleep patterns.
  • Lower your risk of a heart attack. Men who skip vacations for five consecutive years raise their risk by 30%.

Vacation time, whether spent on the go or relaxing at home, allows your body to rest and rejuvenate so that you return to work happier and better prepared to do your job.

Work Benefits

In addition to boosting your personal health, taking vacation time has actually been shown to improve your work performance as well. In one study, for every 10 hours of vacation time a worker took, their job performance score went up as much as 8%. Another study showed that workers who were required to take time off worked more productively than those who did not take vacation time.

To operate at peak performance at work, your brain needs an occasional rest. Vacation time can increase your creativity as well, allowing you to approach your job with a new perspective. Those who use their vacation time to see the world often see that benefit with their jobs as well.

shutterstock_377604307The Caveat

Vacations provide a number of benefits, but you not only have to take the time off – you have to actually be off work. As many as 3 in 5 workers still do work while they are on vacation. To avoid this, make sure you arrange for someone to cover for you while you are gone, and avoid checking work-related email and voicemail during your vacation.

American workers are throwing away earned vacation time, and their physical and mental well-being may be suffering for it. Taking time off has a host of benefits, so be sure to schedule your vacation time this year!