Yes, You Really DO Need A Vacation

Congratulations, Americans! We’re finally taking more vacation time. And that’s a good thing, because medical studies continue to show that vacations are essential for a happy, healthy life.

According to a new poll, the average time an American took off from work in 2016 was 16.8 days, that’s up from 16.0 days in 2014.  But we’re still not vacationing as hard as we should be. About 54 percent of Americans did not use all their vacation time last year – that’s 662 million vacation days that went to waste.

Some states and cities excel at taking vacation days, others are too terrified or overworked to take time off. Here’s how the nation measures up:

The States That Don’t Know How To Vacation

  • Idaho
  • New Hampshire
  • Alaska
  • South Dakota

The people who are the absolute worst at taking their vacation days are the residents of Idaho. 78 percent of the state’s residents don’t use all of their vacation time. Why? About 36% of Idahoans feel that taking time off would indicate that they are not completely dedicated to their job, while 28% worry that taking time off would prove they are unessential to the success of the company.

In New Hampshire, 42% think that they show their devotion to the company by not taking all of their vacation days, and 38% say that their boss gets cranky about vacation time.

Alaska is the only state where the majority of residents said they’d love to take more time off but they can’t afford it. 51% of Alaskans said money issues kept them from taking a break compared to 32% of Americans overall.

And those practical South Dakotan workers say that there’s no sense in taking time off, because they’ll just have to work harder to catch up when they get back from vacation.

States That Love Vacations

  • Maine
  • Hawaii
  • Arkansas
  • Arizona

The Great State Of Maine holds the top spot when it comes to vacation time usage. Most residents said that local businesses are supportive of taking vacation time, and so workers don’t have to worry about downtime impacting their success at work, or their eligibility for raises or promotions.

Workers in Hawaii come in a close second to the folks in Maine. Only six percent of Aloha State workers said their company culture did not promote time off, compared to 20 percent of workers nationally.

Other states where people are the most likely to take their vacation time are Arkansas and Arizona. And residents in all four of the top vacation states also report the lowest levels of job-related stress.

Cities Where Vacation Is A Dirty Word

  • Washington, D.C.
  • San Francisco,CA
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • San Bernardino, CA
  • Tampa, FL

Washington, D.C. tops this year’s list, due to all those government workers. Apparently 63 percent of government workers nationwide don’t use all their time, surpassed only by people employed in education (65% of them don’t use their vacation days). That said, four-in-ten government workers say there’s no rush about taking their time, as they can roll over 21 or more days of vacation. Most U.S. workers can roll over a maximum of five days a year.

Three California metro areas also aren’t keen on holidays, In San Francisco 62 percent say they’re too busy at work to take time off, while Los Angeles workers are worried about what their boss would think, and people in San Bernardino think that they’re irreplaceable and so they just can’t take time off.

In Florida, almost half of workers in Tampa’s workers (42 percent) said financial issues keep them from vacationing.

Cities That Do Vacation Right

  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Chicago, IL
  • Orlando, FL
  • Miami, FL

Pittsburgh gets the top spot in the nation for using the most vacation days, followed by Phoenix. Workers in these two cities are much less likely to feel that skipping vacation makes them appear more dedicated than the average employee, and don’t worry feel that taking time off will rob of them of raises or promotions.

Other cities that use the most vacation time include Chicago, Orlando and Miami.

Vacations Are Good For Your Health

Wouldn’t it be great if more doctors prescribed taking a vacation to their stressed-out patients?

Medical studies all support the health benefits of vacationing, saying that downtime decreases stress and enhances the immune system.

The Framingham Heart Study–the largest and longest-running study of cardiovascular disease– revealed that men who didn’t take a vacation for several years were 30 percent more likely to have heart attacks compared to men who did not take time off. And women who took a vacation only once every six years or less were almost eight times more likely to develop coronary heart disease or have a heart attack compared to women who vacationed at least twice a year.

If you really, truly can’t take a couple of weeks off soon – and you’re 100% sure that you’re not being a “work martyr” schedule some long weekends this summer. You’ll feel better, and you’ll be more productive at work.

Have a great vacation!

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