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Why you should take a vacation and how to do it

By on August 7, 2016

FILE - In this Tuesday, June 16, 2015, file photo, a woman sits next to an umbrella while looking out toward the ocean in Folly Beach, S.C. That sunscreen in your bag may not protect your skin as much as you think. Even after regulators updated standards for labeling sunscreen in 2012, tests have shown many provide far less protection than advertised. If you're going to be outside, experts recommend finding some shade and wear clothing that covers your arms and legs, and a broad-brimmed hat to protect your face, ears and neck. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

A woman sits next to an umbrella while looking out toward the ocean (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

It’s summer time and the living is … not so easy for some.

American workers have been taking less and less vacation over the past 15 years. A study by Project: Time Off found that in 2015, more than half of American workers left vacation time unused.

If you are among this unlucky group, consider our tips on why you should take a break and how to do it.

RECOGNIZE THE PERKS: Vacation is a chance to rest your mind and your body from the demands of work.

Doug Walker, manager of HR Services at Insperity said that these psychological and physiological perks can help an employee feel refreshed and more inspired at work and at home.

However, he is quick to point out that a stressful vacation, such as one filled with work emails, may end up leaving a worker depleted. He suggests taking a real break that has no work duties or very limited ones, and allows for some tranquility.

“It’s in stillness that life’s sediment settles and the murkiness becomes clear,” Walker said.

CONSIDER THE HURDLE: The United States is the only developed country that does not require employers to provide vacation time, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research. But workers are often entitled to days off that they simply aren’t taking.

Project: Time Off found 658 million days went unused last year among those surveyed, the highest ever since the travel industry group began measuring it. Of those, 222 million days are simply lost – they are days cannot be rolled over, paid out or banked for any other benefit.

Employees cite a variety of reasons for forgoing vacation time – they worry about returning to a mountain of work or feel no one else can do their job. Some cannot afford it and others simply want to show their complete dedication.

But Walker points out there are very few true emergencies at work and that in most cases someone else can handle it or a problem that arises can wait till you return. And taking a break can make you a better worker.

“It’s important to remind yourself of that,” Walker said.

WALK THE WALK: If you are the boss, the pressure is on you to take a break.

By actually taking vacation, you signal to employees that it’s OK to do so, too. Communicate with them about vacation policies and encourage them to take time off as needed.

“A company’s success is all about the degree to which your employees are engaged and effective,” Walker said. “If they aren’t engaged because they are burnt out or they aren’t effective because they are burnt out, they need a break.”

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