If you work for a company that gives you paid vacation days, they can feel like a luxury. But they’re not. They’re part of your compensation plan. Not taking them is like getting your paycheck, then handing some money right back to your employer.
That would be wild, right? But it’s happening all the time.
And as it turns out, this doesn’t just mean employees are missing out on a benefit of their compensation package. It also means they’re missing out on a chance to boost their mental health.
A quick look at vacation day use
Around half of workers across the country don’t use all of their vacation days in any given year. And while half of those people say they just don’t need the time out of office (OOO), people give other reasons for skipping those days off. They report issues like worrying they’ll fall behind or feeling like they’ll risk a promotion — or their job in general.
The prevalence of hustle culture discourages people from across the country from using vacation days, but that could be making all of us less happy and healthy.
Why vacation matters for mental health
Needing that push to take time OOO? Here are a handful of things that time away can do for your mental wellbeing:
- Reduce stress. You’ve probably experienced that feeling: you wake up the first morning of vacation and breathe a big sigh of relief. Your worries feel a million miles away and you can relax. And studies show that the stress-reducing effects of vacation start even before your days off. Just having a trip or staycation on the calendar — even a short one — can make a big difference in your tension.
- Fight depressive symptoms. When a 2018 study looked at more than 3,300 employees, it found that using 10 paid vacation days could make a big difference in depressive symptoms, particularly among women. In fact, it concluded that 10 paid days could help to prevent more than a half-million cases of depression each year.
- Boost workplace performance. Struggling at work can take a toll on your mental health. Fortunately, time away from that work can help you. The Harvard Business Review reports that people who used all of their available vacation time actually had a 6.5% higher chance of getting promoted. And when Ernst & Young, an audit firm, audited its own employees, it found that for every 10 hours of vacation the person took, they saw an 8% average uptick in their performance reviews.
And remember, just because you’re using a vacation day doesn’t mean you need to go on vacation. If budget, childcare, or something else makes it hard to travel, a staycation can still deliver these benefits.
Heck, if you’re looking for a way to make your staycation feel extra-special, why not have some Doughp delivered to your door?