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Destructive Side Effects Of Vacation Deprivation

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV
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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.

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