Travel | Did You Know | Health

Scientists Say Americans Need To Take More Vacations

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As an adult, having a full-time is one of the necessary requirements to live an adequate life.

While we do so to afford our lifestyle, the thought of working a full 52 weeks every year seems impossible. Luckily, in most countries it's mandatory for our employer to offer us vacation days so we can relax and unwind from our grueling jobs.

We'll never get the same amount of time off as we did during our school days with summer vacation, but having a sufficient amount of paid time off is a crucial factor to a healthier and happier you. Although we might feel guilty of temporarily leaving our office to take the time to enjoy ourselves, you'll soon learn it's a blessing that's been staring at you right in the face this whole entire time.

Why We Need Time Off

While we all agree that we hardworking employees deserve a suitable amount of vacation days every calendar year, there's scientific evidence that backs it up.

As shocking as it sounds, it turns out Americans don't take all of their given time off as those in high-ranking professions feel it's essential they remain working for the good of their company or clients.

But even those with the strongest work ethics need to time off, or else they're bound to suffer from a myriad of consequences.

Firstly, working without intermediate breaks often prohibits workers from taking a much needed rest, which can cause an overwhelming amount of stress. This leads to heart problems.

A 2012 systematic review has found a correlation between working long hours and developing coronary heart disease. As scary as it sounds, those who chose to overwork themselves are 40% more likely to have heart disease.

Along with an increased amount of stress, scientists also factor in a lack of sleep to the collapse of your health, and to make matters worse, men who chose to skip their vacations several years in a row have a 30% higher chance of suffering from a heart attack.

"People felt healthier during vacation. They had a better mood,"Dutch psychologist Jessica de Bloom told  NPR. "They were less tense. And they had a higher level of energy, and they were more satisfied with their life."

But, it's not just your body that's taking a hit from your lack of rest. Your mental health will also see a steady decline.

If you don't take the opportunity to relax, your mind won't be as sharp as someone else who is continually well-rested. Fatigue affects your ability to be creative and will lessen your productivity. There's a higher chance these employees will suffer from depressive episodes.

"You shouldn't have to slog through every day," said Bhatia, the co-founder and CEO of mobile video ad company Vdopia.

"I'm working smarter now, and finding that doing less is more impactful. My brain is getting more nutrition. On the life side, I'm able to pay more attention to my health and spend more time with my daughter," he added.

However, some countries are given more time off than others, and the disparities are actually quite large. Here are the locations with the most and least offered vacation days, and see where your country stacks up compared to the rest.

Workers Who Take Their Vacation Days

Since each country has different laws revolving around the number of paid days off, you'll notice a huge difference between how many vacation days every employee deserves.

But even though everyone is afforded a certain number of days off, you'd be surprised how many people actually decline to take them.  

Countries with the highest amount of vacation days used (in days)

  1. Brazil (30)
  2. Finland (30)
  3. France (30)
  4. Spain (30)
  5. U.A.E. (30)
  6. Germany (28)
  7. Austria (25)
  8. Italy (25)
  9. Norway (25)
  10. Sweden (25)

   ....

   27. U.S.A (14)

   28. Japan (10)

   

Brazil, Finland, France, Spain, and the U.A.E are given 30 vacation days per year, and the average employee takes the entire time off. This is the same with countries like Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K. who each get 25 days off, which their citizens take full advantage of.

Austria and Ireland have 25 and 21 days off respectively, and they're also used to their entirety.

Workers Who Don't Take (All Of) Their Vacation Days

In comparison to those (mostly) European countries, there are millions of workers in other parts in the world who rarely use up all of their vacation days.

For instance, Belgium, New Zealand, Canada, have 25, 20, and 15 paid days off, but they typically have one left over.

Then you have Germany who on average takes 28 out of 30 vacation days, while the Netherlands, Mexico, Thailand, and the U.S. have three unused days out of their respective 25 and 15 days off.

Employees in Malaysia and Singapore frequently have four days left over from their respective 18 and 16 days off, while Australians only use about 20 of their 25 vacation days.

Those in India often have six out of their 25 days remaining, compared to South Korea who has seven of their 15 days left at the end of the year.

However, Japan takes the top spot on this list, as these dedicated employees only half of their 20 days off.

Although this data indicates which countries have staff who overwork themselves, it doesn't reveal what these employees believe they deserve.

Since the average worker in the U.S. doesn't take advantage of three of their 15 days off, about 375 million paid vacation days were left unused. This contrasts 25% of the country's population who believe they require even more time off than they have.

And even though Spain's employees use their full 30 days of paid vacation, a whopping 68% feel they're either very or somewhat holiday-deprived.

[H/T: Entrepreneur, Lonely Planet, Science Alert]

This leads to the unanswered question of what is truly the proper amount of days everyone deserves to take off.

Maya has been working at Shared for 11 Months. She just begrudgingly spent $200 on a gym membership. Contact her at maya@shared.com