Rest and Relaxation: The Benefits of Taking a Vacation

Americans don’t take enough vacation, even though there are plenty of benefits to taking them, including increased happiness, health, and productivity.

A vacation is an extended period of recreation, especially one spent away from home or traveling — to escape the normal, daily grind of life and do something different. Data supports the idea that taking a vacation is good for you, for your relationships, for your family, for your job, and more.

But most Americans aren’t taking enough of it. About 40% of employees don’t take time off from work, even though they are entitled to it. And if employees do use their vacation days, 61% work while they are on vacation, 25% have been contacted by a coworker, and 20% have had their vacation interrupted by a supervisor about a work-related matter. Others don’t take vacations because they fear the pile of tasks and projects they will come back to, that no one else can do their job, or that taking time off might show a lack of dedication; others simply don’t feel supported in taking time off. No wonder it’s difficult for Americans to get away if their work life is always so attached to them.

A vacation doesn’t need to be long or expensive to be effective, however. Taking a few days away from work without looking at professional or personal email or checking in with your job is refreshing and rejuvenating. Fully unplugging from work and day-to-day life is the key to a good vacation, no matter how short or long it is. Here’s why:

Vacations Increase Personal Happiness

When you are in the thick of your day-to-day life, it can be difficult to take a step back and look at things objectively. This can make it hard to see either how good you have it or if you need to make some adjustments. By removing yourself from the daily grind, your to-do list, and normal responsibilities, you can make a true evaluation of your situation. And it’s often the case that people love coming back to their routines and restoring a sense of normalcy to their lives after a vacation.

Taking a Vacation Increases Productivity

Working full-time and dealing with other competing priorities like childcare, caring for aging parents, grocery shopping, cooking dinner, errands, and more — the list can go on and on — takes its toll on your productivity because you always feel like you’re being pulled in a million different directions. Taking a step back from the daily grind can give you some perspective and help recharge your batteries so you go back to your normal work and personal life ready to get things accomplished.

Vacations Improve Health

Taking a vacation relieves stress. Stress wreaks havoc on your body. It affects your heart health, blood pressure, breathing, organ function, sleep patterns, digestion, and more. When on vacation you might move more, sleep more, and give your brain a rest from everything it normally does. After an extended break, your body and mind will feel much better and restored.

Vacations Improve Relationships

Vacations improve your relationships with those around you. Whether it’s your spouse, children, parents, friends, or coworkers, your relationships are bound to improve after leaving your daily responsibilities behind for a few days. Since vacations tend to reduce stress, you will also be able to deal with difficult or frustrating situations with those closest to you in a more effective and satisfactory manner — and with a clear mind.

Lead by Example

Lead by example and take time off. Plan your time, tell important people in your life about your vacation, and just do it. If others see you taking your earned vacation days and coming back relaxed, recharged, and ready to go, they might feel inclined to do the same thing. 

Plus, not taking earned vacation days from work is essentially like paying your employer for you to be at work. Why would you want to pay your employer? Don’t feel guilty when it comes to taking vacation days you have earned.

Make yourself and your happiness, health, and relationships a priority by taking a vacation. 


Fottrell, Q. (2016 June 19). 55% of American workers don’t take all their paid vacation. Market Watch. Retrieved from