Last month we talked about relaxation and how it can help increase your “luck factor.” Continuing on that theme with a different twist, we want to share something we learned about vacation, especially as applied in the American culture.

Did you know that in 2017, American workers forfeited 212 million days of vacation that could not be “banked, rolled over, or paid out”? According to this CNN report, that equates to $62 billion in lost benefits.

The average American worker takes 17.2 days of vacation per year-even though many are eligible for more than that.

Here are a few top reasons that people report as factors weighing against taking advantage of their vacation days:

  1. Can’t afford to go anywhere, so it’s simpler to stay home and work.
  2. Worry about being perceived as unproductive or even lazy.
  3. Too busy, too overwhelmed and can’t take the time off-coming back to a huge mountain of work makes the time off not worth it.
  4. Concern about losing ground in a career.
  5. Going on vacation can be exhausting by itself and it’s hard to get motivated for work after returning home.

We certainly can’t address the complexity of these issues in a short essay, but think it’s important to bring focus to the growing evidence that taking time off can make you more productive, healthier, and happier all around.

It’s a fact: most Americans carry high debt loads and budgets can be tight. This might make it tempting to skip the vacation in favor of earning more money, but what we’re learning suggests that this is a bad idea!

We hear the word “staycation” a lot these days-you know, where you take vacation days but don’t go anywhere, just stay home and relax. That might not sound very exciting, but it could be just what the doctor ordered if you can’t afford a trip to somewhere with a beach or mountains, or maybe even if you can.

Truth is, as we talked about last month, stress and anxiety are two major factors leading to depression, burnout, and many physical problems. A medical practitioner recently said that she prescribes two “pajama days” per month for most of her hard working patients. “They usually resist this at first,” she said, “the very idea of staying at home with nothing to do sounds like a waste of time, especially when the weather gets nice-but every one of them who actually does it has told me that it has become one of their favorite ways to de-stress. Once they give themselves permission to do nothing for a whole day, it turns out to be exactly what they need.”

What we’re saying is that we all need a break. I hope this summer finds you willing to give yourself that permission to take a load off and get refreshed in ways that only real rest will do.

By the way, if #1 on the list above (the money reason) is one of your concerns, it might be possible that a financial review could help. Don’t hesitate to schedule time if it’s time to make sure that you are using all of the financial tools and strategies available.