Why we need a little time away to rejuvinate...

Ask Dr. Joy: Vacations and Your Mental Health

By WEEK Producer

July 13, 2010 Updated Jul 13, 2010 at 2:46 PM CDT


American employees are working longer and taking fewer days of vacation, especially compared to our European counterparts. Recent statistics suggest that we are taking fewer vacations and working harder because many of us fear we might be laid off or that the workload will be too over-whelming when we return. Tonight we will look at how our mental health might be effected and some tips for survival.

How do American's vacation days compare to European workers?
*American's as a whole have 16 days of vacation, but generally only take 14 of those days each year.
*Italians average 42 days of vacation
* The French 37 days
* The Germans 35 days
*The industrious Japanese get 25 paid days vacations and work 100 hours per year less than Americans.

What are the possible effects of not taking vacations?
Vacation starvation, as it is called, can lead to workers who are disgruntled, stress related illnesses such as stomach problems, back aches, etc. Other problems include family tension, and an increase in addictions.

What are some of the reasons for American's taking less vacation time?
1. Overwork ethic- Americans define themselves by their job and our 24/7 technology keeps us tied to our jobs.
2. Guilt and fear-American's tend to fear guilty about leaving their jobs, especially when times are tough in the economy. Other's fear they might lose their job if they take time off, or perhaps lose a promotion.

What are some means of coping with vacation starvation? (CYRON)
1. Take frequent, but shorter vacations ( 4 day weekends)
2. Trade vacation time for pay decreases (29% of American's say they'd trade a pay raise for more vacation time)
3. Use your weekends as time for yourself and family vs. spending the weekend working on things from the office.
4. Learn some stress management techniques from a mental health professional.

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