Destructive Side Effects Of Vacation Deprivation

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – You know you need a break, but you’re afraid to take time off from work. In today’s economy, that’s the way many workers feel.

Vacation deprivation can be bad for you, and for your company.

Despite some improvements in the job market, American workers remain nervous about being away from the office for too long, fearing they won’t be seen as essential.

A recent survey found the average full time worker didn’t use 6.2 vacation days last year.

WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben reports

Elaine Varelas of Keystone Partners in Boston said, “You can’t have a long term productive employee who is always on urgent, and those are where the health care issues come in. The adrenaline level has a very short duration and people do crash.”

A good worker is a fresh worker, according to Varelas. “You also need to have different life experiences and those are the things that give you new insights, new thoughts about how it might work within your world of work. So having that time away from your environment really can refresh your thinking.”

Ryan Goldberg, a dental sales representative, agrees. “Every time I come back from vacation, I always feel rejuvenated and feel that its mentally beneficial to me,” he explained.

When we finally take a vacation, it’s usually our mental health which provides the motivation. Not taking a break can also impact our physical health as well.

“The newest science is saying that high levels of stress are pro inflammatory,” said Dr. Rick Donahue of Personal Health MD in the Back Bay. “It creates inflammation in the body. People with psoriasis, it’s inflammation of the skin. When people are stressed, their asthma gets worse.”

Taking time off from work without any backlash requires planning. In general, Varelas advises workers give their employers at least three months’ notice.

“Then build a calendar back to that vacation time so you can prep your colleagues, make sure that your work is as up to date as possible, and alert whoever will be covering for you about specific issues that may come up,” she added.

Another option is to offer to check in periodically.

Stressed out workers are expensive for companies over the long haul. One study found health care spending on frazzled workers is 2.5 times what it is for non-stressed workers.

More from Paula Ebben
  • George Bush

    USA workers get lousy vacation time as it is, most of those socialized nations get 5 weeks to start.

    • Italo

      They also get those many additional amounts of annual vacation days in several foreign nations, such as in Europe, because of all the additional tax monies they’re required to pool into their governments, too, as you alluded to. It’s like we can’t win either way! :(

  • Paull Cudak

    As a self employed person, and especially with this economy, what is a vacation?
    I maybe able to eek out a day here on days that it’s too crappy to work, but I haven’t had a “standard vacation” in years. I’m not complaining either, I’d rather sock it away, pay down the mortgage, make home improvements, then have it burn a hole in my pocket and worse have credit card charges that I’d have to pay down for a 1 or 2 week sprawl.

  • dan

    yes, and in canada. when a woman has a child she gets one year leave from work with pay….try getting that down here

  • dan

    when a friend ours had a baby they gave her 3 weeks then her job would replaced

  • Cat fight !

    SHUT UP AND GET TO WORK! or your fired.

  • Willow

    If you think lack of vacation time is rough on American workers, wait till no one can afford to retire anymore and people are arriving at work with their walkers. I already know people of retirement age who do not see that in their life…..ever.

  • tsalnew

    It is my experience that it is the average worker who does not take a vacation. I am not convinced it is because of fear in all cases. My husband typically carries four weeks from year to year (the maximum he can carry) because he just doesn’t want to take the time knowing work will suffer.

    I wonder what the statistics for vacations taken at the top level are??

    • fred

      I find that the week leading up to a vacation is extremely stressful because I try to make sure every i has its dot and every t is crossed so I can have a clear conscience. My wife and I mostly end up taking long 3 and 4 day weekends instead of a full week – and generally in the off season when prices are cheaper and people are more happy to have your business. As for retirement I have think many people will still have to work to supplement their income – I have a feeling a common phrase will be “will that be paper or plastic”.

      • Willow

        fred, I know exactly what you’re saying. I worked HR and there were so many things to do before taking some time off. Even then, I would worry because new problems came up every day. There are many seniors who have retired and are working in supermarkets or retail stores to supplement their income. How can jobs open up for younger workers when the older ones can’t afford to retire? I think it’s only a matter of time that social security will be a thing of the past, and young workers will have to save on their own for their retirement. With this economy, who can save anything.

  • Matt

    I get 5 weeks of vacation per year plus the week of christmas off. 7 sick days, 9 holidays, 3 floating holidays and 2 personal days. And I use every one of them. I can’t carry them over and they don’t get paid out if they don’t get used.

    • tsalnew

      Matt Im assuming you are not management since you have a limited number of sick days but do you really take all sick days even when not sick? But that’s a huge amount of time off – a little over 17% of your year.

      • tsalnew

        Interesting…………..very interesting

      • Matt

        I use every sick day. That is all I am willing to say about that.

    • Kamel

      Thanks for the response, Bob. I can see when riatos would be helpful: I think of my nonchalance as a teenager while making Julia’s recipes from “The Art of French Cooking” with the inevitable, resultant failure, and, today, I often refer to riatos when making “European” pastries. Unfortunately, today, I think that many people think they can cook but they make mistakes, usually because they fail to think of riatos. But when riatos become taken-for-granted knowledge, as in the case with the Greek grandma next door, then riatos seem to become secondary, or even non-existent, because texture, taste, feel, aroma, etc. all become the more immediate and important aspects of the final dish.I think a lot about these aspects of food and cooking because I’m not a trained professional chef, but I work as one (in addition to the anthropology), and I love to cook at home. I think I do well, like many other “self”-trained cooks. And that idea of “well” or confidence in myself, is often reinforced when my husband and I eat at high end restaurants, with the frequent result of not being impressed. Sometimes the food is pretty, but tasteless. Sometimes the taste is good, but not exceptional. And sometimes, it’s just not acceptable, given the price. And I think that in the end, it is often the result of one of two factors: the riatos were off, or the chef never tasted the food.I do think you’re right about using mass as a criteria, especially when I consider bread-making and the freshness of flour, the humidity, etc.And, I expect I’ll buy Ruhlman’s book because I like his voice.BTW, I’m waiting for your book on charcuterie….

  • sloopjohnB2

    Just go to Greece. You can have a long vacation. It might even be permanent.

  • Petetm

    I’ve been working for 28 years but because I’ve been laid off a few times, my vacation days start again from the typical two weeks that US companies give.
    28 years, two weeks vacation. Awesome.

    • tsalnew

      That is lousy Petem. I’m self employed so nothing I get (vaca, sick,holiday) is paid for but I take a couple of weeks each year and then a day here and there and holidays my husband has. I was at a job for 33 years mostly in management/sr management and never began to take the days I could have. Most people I know don’t. I figure you just make more work for everyone else when you are out and in all honesty I’ve been lucky enough to love what I do so never had any problem wanting to do the work.

    • Rubens

      I saw this story today and heard the 911 call. It left me wondering about their igtcllinenee level (not to be mean or I could understand calling 911 if the baby was in some kind of distress or they were, but just because you are lost ?!?!. Well it gave me a good chuckle anyway. BTW, love your blog. Very well put together. I am glad you found my blog and I was able to learn about yours. I look forward to reading your posts!!

  • Moody

    Are you still on blog vacation?! Come back to us!!! ;)Oh man I feel like when I leave, it takes me mtnohs and mtnohs to come back. Blogging takes a lot of time! A lot of time that is really hard to find these days. Well in any case… I’m glad you’re well. Hey btw… I’m hosting a giveaway.

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