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Time for a vacation: Boost your career by having a life

Kristin is a freelance magazine and web editor. She's compulsively organized, loves solving people's problems, and makes ice cream in her spare time, which you can read about on her blog:

Why you should use all of your vacation days

It seems counterintuitive, right? To be better at your job, you should go on vacation. But studies have shown that because of the restorative properties of time off, you'll actually return to your job a better employee. And the good news doesn't stop there — vacations are good for you all around.

Why you should use all of your vacation days

Photo credit: narvikk/Vetta/Getty Images

Did you use up all your vacation days last year? According to a study by Expedia, American workers are some of the most "vacation-deprived" people in the world. On average, Americans only get 12 vacation days each year, and according to research from the Families and Work Institute, a full third don't use all of their allotted time. As it turns out, you aren't doing yourself any favors by leaving those days on the table. Taking vacation can not only boost your career, but it's also good for your health. Here's a look at all the ways that taking a vacation can make you a better employee.


You'll feel better about your job

Taking a break is the easiest and best form of stress relief. And by not taking time off to recharge from a stressful (or even a not-so-stressful) job, you risk burning out. A recent study showed that taking time off actually makes you feel better about your job, and that that feeling lasts a few days post-vacation.


You'll come up with better ideas

There's a reason so many of us come up with great ideas while in the shower or sleeping. When our brains are idle, or at least distracted, we can make connections and find that missing piece of an idea. A vacation is just like that, but on a larger scale. Just avoid getting sucked into emailing those ideas to the office. Instead, write them down, and get back to relaxing.


You'll feel less overworked

When you finally set out on your vacation, take a cue from the French and make sure you leave your work at the office. The study from the Families and Work Institute also showed that only 31 percent of workers who didn't check email or work on vacation felt overworked, compared with 59 percent of the workers who checked in while traveling.


You'll show your boss your worth

You might be concerned that showing your boss how smoothly the office can run while you're out will reflect badly on you, but the opposite is true. If you've coordinated with your coworkers and left clear instructions on your projects, it proves to your boss just how organized you are, and that you can be trusted to think ahead and make sure your projects are completed on time.


You'll be healthier overall

One of the most striking statistics comes from a long-term study about cardiovascular disease that shows women who took infrequent vacations were more likely to have cardiovascular disease. It shows a direct connection between finding the right work-life balance and your long-term health. Who's ready to book some plane tickets?

POLL: How many vacation days do you get each year?

  • Fewer than five days
  • Five to 10 days
  • 10 to 15 days
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More ways to relax

10 Weird ways to reduce stress
How being overworked affects your health
9 Realistic tips for stress-free travel

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