Recently I found myself apologizing to a colleague because I was planning to take a week of holiday.  I had returned from a holiday not long before, and I felt embarrassed about being away again. There are many people around me who don’t take as much holiday time as I do, and I sometimes hear about it.  My extended family is the first to participate in vacation shaming with comments such as: “of course you’re going away again,” or “you take more time off than anyone I know.”  The truth is I’ve only recently started taking regular vacation.  Like many North Americans, I used to waive my right to the vacation I had earned and convinced myself that my workplace couldn’t survive without me.  I took a few days off here and there, and the occasional week away.  Now I take my vacation every year; and I take enough vacation to keep me feeling refreshed and energized for work.

Here’s why you should use your vacation time – all of it – and encourage your employees or coworkers to do the same:

Vacation prevents burnout:  numerous studies confirm the positive effects of vacation on delayed burnout and offsetting the effects of high job demands.  One study confirmed that a substantial time away from work – at least 2 weeks – is needed for the full benefit.

Employees who use vacation, perform better:  an Ernst & Young study showed an 8% higher rating in performance for participants who took additional vacation time.

Vacation can reduce your health risks:  one study of men with high risks for cardiovascular disease showed that those who took vacation, had reduced their risk factors more than those who didn’t take it.

Vacation is fun!:  it just is; no explanation needed.

STOP Vacation Shaming

I’m grateful that my colleague called me out and told me I should stop vacation shaming myself.  It got me thinking about the irony of coaching others to have a healthy work-life balance, engage in self-care, and take your breaks and time off, when I, myself, feel guilty about doing the same things.

It’s definitely not easy in today’s fast-past world, to fully disengage, especially when every knows you can be reached via email, phone call, or text. However taking time off is extremely important for long term sustainability. So I encourage you to STOP feeling the shame of others when you take your time off, and to NOT shame others, but encourage them to take a vacation as well.

Here are some quick suggestions to help you stop the vacation shaming circle:

  • Never apologize. You worked hard, you got the approved time off, you now deserve time for yourself to recuperate. It’s that simple.
  • Talk about how the vacation affected your work ethic. Comment about how you feel rejuvenated and ready to work. Express how the vacation had a positive effect on your health and your passion for your work.
  • Set the standard. Take your time off, but also encourage others to take theirs. When stress levels are high, energy levels are low, or enthusiasm is at a minimal – suggest vacation time. It will benefit you, your team, and your company!

So, next time someone tries Vacation Shaming you, hold your head up high, be confident in your decision, and say: “yea! I’m super excited to be able to take some time off again. When have you planned your next vacation?”

Diana Vissers is the Founder and Director of Corporate Services at Work to Wellness Rehabilitation Inc. – a Canadian company providing expert disability management services to Canadian customers. She is in the business of making your place of business healthy, safe and productive. Follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for the latest news and updates on health, wellness and integrated disability management.