08/10/2015 05:22 pm ET Updated Aug 10, 2016

Why Vacations Are Important


I love the Mastercard One commercials with the little kids begging the parents to take a vacation day. Did you realize that Americans average 8.1 unused vacation days each year? That is sad. AND unhealthy. Even if you love your job, it is important to your health and well-being to enjoy regular breaks:

  • Too much work often leads to stress, which leads to poor exercise and food choices, which leads to compromised health.
  • Often a break in hard work will allow your brain to relax - you'll come back more motivated and often with fresh ideas.
  • It's important to enjoy time with friends and family outside of work - at the end of your life, odds are good you will be more likely to regret not spending time with others versus working more hours.

With all these valid reasons to take vacations, it's amazing that we still don't always do it. Why is that? I've broken down a few of the typical reasons AND given you a different perspective to help you fight that urge to follow the crowd.

  1. You'll get behind. This is a big one for me. There is no one else to do my job, so when I'm not working, things don't get done. The work just backs up. While it's very tempting to check your in-box while away, another strategy is to block out the first four hours of your first day back. Use that time to catch up on email, plan for the rest of the week and handle anything small that you can close out. I've found that doing this allows me to ease back into work and enjoy vacation knowing I have a plan of attack upon return.
  2. Your boss, client, supplier, etc. will be unhappy with you. Depending upon your individual situation, that might or might not be true. Regardless of the truth of the matter, you need to decide how to handle it. A good way to make your decision is to ask yourself this question: "In ten years am I going to care that I upset (insert work related person's name here), or remember the great trip I took with my kids?" It's all about perspective. Plus, if you plan ahead for your time away and catch up upon your return using tip #1, your time off will be forgotten by others before you know it.
  3. I can't afford it. If you don't have paid vacations or just don't have the money to go somewhere, you can STILL enjoy the benefits of vacationing. Just do it at home. I wrote a recent blog post with ideas on what to do if you can't afford a trip - and I know there are many other articles with ideas available. Another easy solution is to conduct an internet search of "things to do" in your city or a nearby town.

I encourage you to take advantage of regular vacations -- your life will be more interesting, well-rounded and enjoyable! What are your vacation challenges? I'd love to hear all about them (and maybe some solutions!) in the comments.