There is a whole new meaning to the phrase “taking a vacation” in today’s society.  While many utilize their paid vacation days, rarely do people disconnect from work one hundred percent. Emails are still checked and, when necessary, conference calls are made. This increasing trend is negatively affecting our health AND our productivity.

According to a poll taken by The Huffington Post, 40% of participants reported NOT taking their entire vacation entitlement because they have too much work to do and don’t want to fall behind.  Another 26% reported wanting to save their time for emergencies. This trend of leaving vacation time on the books shows that Americans are more in need of a break from the “daily grind” than ever before. There are several reasons why individuals can benefit from taking vacations, many of which help to improve performance and job satisfaction.

Vacations Help Maintain Focus – People who continuously work with no vacations can begin to feel distracted and have difficulty concentrating. This can cause mistakes at work or a loss of productivity. Surveys have shown that roughly three-quarters of people who vacation regularly feel energized and refreshed when returning to work. This enables them to focus clearly on projects and be more efficient with day to day tasks.

Vacations Reduce Stress – Stress releases hormones into our body that, in high levels, can be damaging and unhealthy. Getting away for regular vacations and taking time away from our everyday stressors allows our body a break from those high levels of hormones and an opportunity to repair some of the damage they can cause.

Productivity at Work Increases when Vacations are Taken – Studies have shown that workers who use their vacation time have a decreased amount of sick days taken, which directly affects company productivity. In addition, employees reported feeling more satisfied with their jobs when they took regular vacations and studies have found that job satisfaction translates to increased work quality.

Taking a break from work does not have to be a trip to another country. Enjoying a long weekend away can help you relax and recharge. The key is, you have to commit to leaving work at the office when you decide to vacation. Your work will be waiting when you return, so checking the emails and voicemail should wait as well. If you’re tempted to check in, stop and remember why you’re taking the vacation in the first place – to allow yourself some time to relax and be your best self, enabling you to be the best you can be for your company.