Americans work hard. So hard, in fact, that fewer and fewer people in the American workforce are inclined to take a vacation.
Take the Volk family, for example. For the past five years, Briana and her husband Andrew have accomplished a lot. Not only have they opened a successful cocktail bar in Portland, ME, but Briana has also given birth to a child and launched her own marketing firm. Yet despite all of this success, the two hadn’t found the time to take a vacation — a hard-earned one, at that.
“We’re good at getting into the trap of working all the time. So stepping away from that felt a little selfish. We both felt we always needed to be working,” Volk said in an interview with the Boston Globe.
And even when the Volks finally managed to get away to Palm Springs in February, Briana confessed to working for at least an hour a day throughout the vacation.
“I’m the kind of person who sleeps with an iPhone under my ear,” she admitted.
And the Volks aren’t alone. In fact, their vacation-skipping speaks to a much larger trend in the United States. Not only do American workers get less vacation time than Europeans, but they scarcely take advantage of the vacation days they work so hard to earn. In fact, only 25% of participants in a recent survey report using all of their paid vacation days each year.
So why are Americans seemingly chained to their desks? As Collete Stohler of The Huffington Post coins it, the American worker is a victim of “Vacation Shaming, a horrible disease that is infiltrating the offices of America.”
In 2015, Stohler, a travel and fitness writer, decided to take an “adult gap year.” And perhaps unsurprisingly, American counterparts found her move crazy.
She writes, “As I’ve discussed vacation time with people from around the world, I’ve found that while our dear America has one of the best work ethics, we have one of the weakest work/life balances.”
Vacation time isn’t just a way to get away from responsibilities; research shows that it’s important for a person’s health, well-being, and overall productivity. Studies performed by Framingham Heart Study revealed that men who didn’t take a vacation for several years were as much as 30% more likely to have heart attacks. Additionally, studies conducted at the Marshfield Clinic determined that people who take vacations fewer than once every two years were more likely suffer from depression and increased stress.
So moral of the study? Ignoring the vacation shame and using those paid days off will not only be good for your health but will make you a better worker at the end of the day.