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Skipping Vacation Could be Hazardous to your Health

work illnessA lot of Americans wouldn’t dream of missing medical appointments or their annual physicals. And yet those same individuals repeatedly compromise their health – and may even shorten their life-span – by skipping annual vacations!

This lack of R&R can put us at risk of many ailments and disorders, particularly anxiety and heart disease. As one cardiologist stated, “When my patients tell me they can’t afford to take a vacation, I tell them they can’t afford not to.”

Studies show that 1 in 5 working women reported to taking a vacation just once in the past six years. And more troubling, the odds of being clinically depressed go up as the frequency of vacation goes down?

 The medical and business community alike are increasingly acknowledging the importance of workers striking the right balance between their professional and personal lives. Commonly known as work/life balance, employers are encouraging more and more high-performance employees to take time off to avoid burn out. Vacations enhance physical and mental health, which are necessary for us to achieve peak performance. Interestingly, those same companies show less concern for the health and wellbeing of lower paid workers who do not hold high-status positions.  In fact, one high-profile recent story reported a Louisiana Seafood Processing Plant that forced employees to work 24-hour shifts without overtime pay or breaks.

Yet for middle class Americans, the dilemma is more familiar. In a study reported by Oxford Health Plans, about 1 in 5 workers say they fell so overworked that they cannot use up all of the vacation time available to them. And this problem continues up the corporate ladder. Only 30% of executives will agree to leave work for more than a week at a time. And when those execs do take a vacation, they generally take their work along, checking email and voice mail throughout the trip. The reservations about full-blown, old-fashioned “vacations” emerged from a deeply-rooted (and indeed Puritanical) cultural belief that “not working” is morally wrong.

This sets Americans apart from many other cultures in the world, who do recognize and embrace the value of ‘holiday’ time on a regular basis. Europe is a perfect example. Most European workers take three or more weeks of vacation every year!

What’s more, Brooks Gump, a Psychology Professor at New York State University, has completed studies showing that the frequency of heart disease is goes up among men who skip vacations. Gump’s research indicates that men who take vacations have a significantly lower risk of death from heart disease (or any other condition) than men who did not.

Vacation rejuvenates our health by lowering stress, a widely-recognized risk factor for a broad spectrum of diseases. Apart from the reducing stress, vacations offer personal benefits that occur from spending quality time with family and friends.

While an element of class and income is certainly prevalent in these figures, it is not as large of a determinant as one might think. Furthermore, vacation from work does not have to include pricey cruises or exotic destinations. The main thing is to find a setting that allows you to leave your tasks and worries behind.

If you’re unable to leave for a week at a time, a handful of short excursions and activities – even driving nowhere in particular – can offer an uplifting adventure for the entire family.  Even excursions to a local park for a couple hours help everyone relax and enjoy themselves.

As the old saying goes, “You never heard anybody on their death bed say they wish they’d spent more time at the office.”  So what we waiting for?

Work Injury Lawyer

If you are suffering from an occupational illness, or have experienced work-related depression, anxiety, or other work-related mental health issues, you may be eligible for workers compensation benefits. The Seattle Workers Compensation Lawyers at Emery Reddy can also help if you are the victim of workplace discrimination, unpaid overtime wages, or some other illegal workplace practice. We also help workers who have receive notice of a denied L&I claim, or need to undergo an independent medical exam for their L&I claim. Whatever your issue, an employment attorney at Emery Reddy can help. Call us today for a free consultation.

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