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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

July 12, 2023 - 9:00am --

Recently on the news I happened to overhear that according to a survey that more than 77% of the workforce fail to take the vacation time they have earned.  While I realize that some vacations can be challenging due to the details of planning and maybe some of the cost involved, there are many vacations that are good simply for the change of pace.

Huffpost reports that only 25% of employees take all of their paid vacation days and another report show that 61% work while on vacation and some 49% feel guilty about planning and taking time off. I hope that some of the following points will cause us all to reconsider our plans for the rest of the year. 

Taking vacations is a way to increase our physical and mental health, be more productive upon returning to work, reconnect with our priorities, and maybe even explore the things we’d like to do in retirement.  One survey shared indicated that “vacations contributed to more positive emotions and fewer negative feelings and depression”.  Vacations can also cut your risk for heart attacks by 30% for men and almost 50% for women.  Being able to get a good night’s sleep and awake without an alarm is also healthy for us. Taking time off work is a way to “reset” and restore energy upon returning to work. Daily job stress needs a break; our brains need an opportunity to relax for more than a few hours.  Extended time off (more than a week) helps to increase calmness in our brains.  Reflect on something that you’d really like to do and make plans to make it happen.

Rested workers show better work performance

Some may be concerned that if I take time off, others will take my “place” at work.  Research also documents that workers who take more vacation time consistently receive better scores (by almost 10%) on their performance reviews than those who don’t take their time.  In addition to better performance, they are happier with their job and stay in the position longer.  Research also indicated that nearly 85% of those in administrative or executive positions cancel vacations because they “can’t get away”.  Setting the tone for the others is important and, in the long run, is reported to just hurt the overall productivity.  When they take time off, they return with more creativity and clarity.

Time away from work can also help improve your relationships.  A five-year study in Wisconsin showed that women who take 2 vacations a year are “less likely to become tense, depressed, or tired and are more satisfied with their marriages.:  Families who vacation together have great memories from shared experiences, communication and togetherness, escape and relaxation, and experiential learning which all make contributions to strong relationships.

When planning a vacation, break from the norm

When planning and considering the destination for your next get-a-way consider going or doing something different than you do every day.  If you work inside, getting outside or frequent change of venue might be refreshing.  If your job involves a lot of travel maybe staying in one or two places would be more relaxing.  Being mindful of hobbies to pursue after retirement or making a list of places to revisit could be helpful too. 

As a family begin to make a list of things that you’d like to do or accomplish throughout the rest of the summer.  Then as time and budget allows begin to make plans during your vacation time.  Not everything has to involve extensive travel, but getting away from a daily schedule can help to reset.  For longer trips involving greater expense, more time will be needed to save and that too can be a great life lesson for family members.  Happy summer everyone!

Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722 or