Life and living: A change will do you good

In 2022, 55% of Americans didn’t use their paid time off (PTO). What’s worse is that 28 million Americans don’t get any paid vacation or paid holidays. The lack of time off can be detrimental to both your mental and physical health, so taking time away from work is essential to your well-being and should be made a priority. (Go schedule your PTO right now; we’ll wait.)

Studies have shown that using your PTO to unplug from work can lower stress, reduce the risk of heart disease, encourage a brighter outlook on life and provide motivation to achieve goals. If you find yourself lacking energy or motivation, experiencing low moods and high frustrations, having difficulty concentrating and feeling unfocused, it may be time for you to take a break from work, even if it’s just for a weekend staycation.

Let’s look at the benefits that a mini-vacation (or staycation) and mental breaks can do for your health.

Reduces stress

If you’re feeling stressed most—or all—of the time, it can lead to big health issues, especially heart disease. Chronic stress can lead to feeling overwhelmed and overstimulated. A break from the office can interrupt that cycle of stress and help you (and your brain) relax.

Improves mental health

Another side effect of stress is that it can alter your brain structure and lead to anxiety and depression. Taking breaks creates the opportunity to reduce stress and prevent burnout. It allows you to take part in activities you enjoy or ones that can help you relax, and it can also help heal your mind.

Provides better sleep

Time away from work can interrupt habits that disrupt sleep, such as checking your phone before bed or working until the wee hours of the morning. For some, sleeping on a different mattress can also improve sleep as it helps you dissociate from unhealthy sleep patterns you may experience at home.

Boosts brainpower and creativity

Taking time off is essential for giving your brain a chance to relax. It improves your capacity to learn and allows you to become more creative. Engaging in activities that are unrelated to work can help inspire new ideas and solutions.

Strengthens relationships

Traveling and exploring with your friends, family or loved ones is a wonderful way to help strengthen your relationships. Experiencing something new and exciting can help you bond at a deeper level.

Improves physical health

Studies have shown that vacations can improve physical health—mainly by reducing the risk of heart disease. And if you plan to spend time outside in the sunlight, your body will produce more vitamin D, which is important for bone health and immunity functions.

Increases mindfulness

Stepping away from the daily grind makes you feel more present and stimulated. Instead of going through normal daily routines, you’re providing yourself with an opportunity to be in an unfamiliar situation. This helps you become more present with where you are and what you’re doing.

In the lyrics from Sheryl Crow, “Hello, it’s me; I’m not at home. If you’d like to reach me, leave me alone.”

Become unreachable from work several times a year. Take the long weekend and plan the weeklong vacation you’ve been thinking about. Both your mind and body will thank you.

Back to issue