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Time Off Can Improve Employee Performance – Here’s Why

Everyone needs a break at some point, especially individuals working in high- stress work environments. In fact, research shows that taking a vacation can actually increase your performance at work by up to 80%.

Generally, people in the U.S. are working longer hours and taking less time off. In fact, one study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found about 50% of American workers don’t take the vacation days available to them for one reason or another. This can result in the onset of a wide range of physical and mental health problems. Without time off, it’s easy to feel burned out, unmotivated, and unproductive.

Taking care of your physical and mental well-being should be a non-negotiable. Here’s a look at how time off can improve performance, and how you can overcome scheduling and other challenges to arrange for that much-needed vacation that can make life better for you, your family, and even improve your work performance as well.

Physical Health

If you work in a high-stress environment it’s imperative to take care of your physical health in any way possible. Vacation time can help you assess your physical health and start the process of changes you can make to improve it.

For example, with vacation time, you may be able to try a new exercise program or think of other ways you can shift your daily schedule to get more exercise in. Or if it’s meditation or other relaxation practices that may improve your physical health, vacation can be a great time to initiate that mind-body connection and start a daily practice.

Prolonged stress can lead to health concerns like high blood pressure and even heart disease. But taking a vacation can decrease your risk for these stress- related diseases.

Mental Health

Chronic stress and overwork can actually alter your brain structure, which can lead to disorders such as anxiety and depression. If you work in a stressful environment, you are even more susceptible to mental health concerns. Regular breaks from work-related situations may help. Finding time on your vacation to rest your mind and get away from your hectic schedule or workplace stressors can actually be a healing practice to support your overall mental well-being.


Stress and burnout can also affect your productivity and motivation to perform well. Taking that important mental and physical break from work can help you feel refreshed, more alert, focused, and motivated to do your job well.

You also want stick to stick to a pledge of not working during scheduled time off. One Harvard study found 30% of workers reported working on weekends and on vacation. Use friends, family, and others, if needed, to help remind you to stick to a goal of truly disconnecting from work on vacation, so that you can come back refreshed and motivated.

The Many Impacts of Not Taking Time Off

Consistently working long hours without giving yourself time off can bring long- term negative health effects. It may lead to cardiovascular disease, chronic fatigue, decreased sleep quality, and other concerns. One study even found a 30% increased risk of heart attack in men and 50% increased risk for women who did not take their vacation. Not taking vacation may also lead to bringing stress home with you, which can also harm your family life and put strain on your relationships.

Commit to Taking a Vacation

For some, it may feel like it’s difficult to take a vacation right now. Maybe it’s the feeling that it’s too hard to find the time, there’s a project to finish, or there’s always something else preventing you from committing to taking time off. If you don’t think you have the time, start small. You don’t have to take off a whole week or two for a vacation. Even short weekend breaks or mental health days can make a big difference.

You can also use technology to help make scheduling a vacation easier. If you’re worried about having your shifts covered, download the Medshift x-Change® app and connect with others on your team who are able to fill in for you so you can enjoy the vacation time your body and mind need and deserve.

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