It is very interesting that the average U.S. employee takes only half of their allotted vacation time. The reasons could vary from cost, too much work at the job or home to leave, or the attitude that a vacation is unimportant.

How many people complain they are tired and exhausted? Yet in spite of being overworked, overwhelmed and overwrought, they do nothing about this problem.

Even of those who do manage to take vacation time, three in five admit they do some work while vacationing and 25 percent say they are contacted by a coworker or supervisor about some work-related issue.

It is time to take a vacation that provides the benefits of better mental and physical health. This will allow you to come back refreshed so you are more productive and effective.

According to research studies, there are at least four reasons that vacations are good for you.

1. Heart Health

A number of studies have recognized the cardiovascular benefits of a vacation. Men who skip vacations for five years in a row have a 30 percent higher risk of suffering a heart attack compared to men who vacationed every year for at least one week. Even missing one year, was associated with a higher risk of heart disease.

Women who vacationed only once every six years were eight times more likely to develop heart disease, have a heart attack or die from a cardiovascular cause than women who vacationed twice a year. It appears that taking vacation time has important health and heart benefits.

2. Stress Relief

A vacation takes people away from the activities and environment that people identify as stressful for them. Scientific studies identify that people believe a vacation helped reduce stress from work. The effect can last up to five weeks with fewer complaints of physical ailments related to stress such as headaches, backaches and heart irregularities.

3. Better Sleep

When we have too much on our minds, we tend to have restlessness and disturbed sleep. Lack of sleep creates all kinds of problems such as inability to focus as well, an increase in accidents, decreased quality of life, decreased alertness and impaired memory. A vacation can disrupt the habits that create sleep problems. A new vacation environment can take your mind off the stresses of work, eliminates working late at night, and can change the habit of watching a TV or computer screen before bed.

4. Improved Productivity

An internal study by the firm Ernst & Young found that for each additional 10 hours of vacation time employees took, their year-end performance ratings improved 8 percent. Additionally, frequent vacationers were less likely to leave the company.

Another study found that high-level professionals with mandatory vacations were significantly more productive than their colleagues who spent more time working.

Being productive creates satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment and increases happiness. When you are happy, you are likely to excel at what you do.

It’s summer, so plan to take that vacation. Taking time off can improve sleep, productivity, relieve stress and contribute to better overall health.

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