Vacation time reduces anxiety, slashes stress, and cuts your risk of heart disease—by up to 32 percent, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. And yet, we as a nation are overwhelmingly forgoing taking time off. One report, per the U.S. Travel Association, indicates that more than half of all Americans leave some vacation days on the table each year, while another, from market research firm Skift, found that a staggering 42 percent of American workers didn’t take any time off in 2014.
Don’t forget, folks: You should take all of your vacation days—every last one of ’em. Even your company will tell you that you should be taking your vacation days. “I would say, especially for vacation time, that employees should utilize that time because the organization is giving them that time so they can rest and relax and come back to work refreshed,” Evren Esen, director of workforce analytics at the Society of Human Resource Management, told CNBC. “It’s not required by organizations in the [United States] to provide vacation or sick leave or any paid time off. It is a benefit that employees should take advantage of.”
Here’s how we suggest you do it: At some point in the year, take an 8-day long vacation. (Research in the Journal of Happiness Studies indicates that 8 days is the ideal length for a vacation. At that point, enjoyment levels hit an apex; after that, they precipitously drop.) And yes, chances are, you’ll have the days: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average corporate employee will get 15 days of paid time off each year. So use them—on something big. Then, strategically use the remaining days to pad out holiday weekends. Take the Friday before Labor Day. Take the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Give yourself a few summer Fridays.
And if you think taking time off will peeve your boss, kindly remind them that the research is overwhelming: Taking time off directly leads to increased productivity and efficiency.
See? You have to get away.