How important is vacation? It can be summed up in one sentence: rested employees are more productive employees.

Taking vacation can reduce stress, help prevent burnout and promote work-life balance by allowing for more time to be spent with family, significant others and close friends.

Yet most employees don’t take vacations often enough and many don’t use all of their allotted paid vacation time. According to Expedia’s  Vacation Deprivation Study, American workers reported leaving four full days of vacation on the table each year, with 15 available and 11 taken.

Consistently working long hours and not taking respite away from work can have a damaging effect on health and can negatively affect family life. A nine-year study reported in Psychosomatic Medicine found that vacations actually reduce the risk of heart disease. Men who did not take a vacation for several years were 30 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack than those who took a vacation at least one week a year.

I am guilty of not taking a vacation for several years. My excuse was  people are  counting on me. I was not being my best self.

Last week I did it, took over a  week off.

Guess what, my energy level and mental attitude  is   positively off the charts

It had been so long since I had over  a week away from working I forgot how wonderful that  restful feeling is.

Women who took a vacation once every six years or less were almost eight times more likely to develop coronary heart disease or have a heart attack than those who took at least two vacations a year.

Studies  also reported that skipping even one year’s vacation time can be associated with increased risk of heart disease.

Vacation or workaholic

What drives Americans to work such long hours and take few vacations? One explanation is that American workers are intrinsically “workaholics.” Getting ahead at work is fundamental to their self-image and to the image they like to project to their employer and to the outside world.

What Employers Can Do

Employers can help workers with work-life balance by instituting policies, procedures, actions and expectations that enable employees to easily pursue more balanced lives. The benefits of work-life balance to the employer include increased productivity; improved recruitment and retention; lower rates of absenteeism; reduced overhead; an improved customer experience; and a more motivated, satisfied workforce.

Work-life balance enables employees to feel as if they are paying attention to all the important aspects of their lives. Employees who can’t afford to get away on vacation don’t recharge both physically and mentally. Employers who encourage the use of time off and provide benefits that offer affordable ways to take vacations will improve employee morale and their company’s bottom line at the same time.

Every employee needs a vacation. Done right, it can lead to fresh perspectives, creative insights, and reduced stress levels. With stress-related healthcare costs in the hundreds of billions, there’s a strong case to be made that taking this time to unplug is beneficial for mental and physical health.

Taking time off can make employees both more productive and more satisfied when they return to work, which translates into higher retention rates that can save a company thousands of dollars.

Reading all these statistics about how harmful it is to my health to not take a vacation, you can bet that I will be taking a vacation every year now and maybe even two vacations each year.

No more Workaholic at this address.