It’s midsummer, America. Have you taken a vacation yet? Unfortunately, nearly half of you have not, which is hard on your health and, believe it or not, the place where you work. Last year, 42% of Americans didn’t take time off. Even among those who did, an average of five vacation days went unused per U.S. worker, according to the U.S. Travel Association.
It can take a toll on the mind and body. Studies say risks from cardiovascular disease, in particular, rise dramatically for those taking less vacation over a lifetime. And a workaholic lifestyle doesn’t exactly do wonders for relationships—at home or in the office.
Consider healthcare workers. Respite is needed from fast-paced, complex and intense environments—to prevent burnout, but also to foster healthier relationships with peers and patients.
The good news: for many of us, a cure is within reach.
Even if you can’t afford to travel, there’s always a stay-cation. You know, where you hang out with loved ones, rejuvenate at a day spa or discover new outdoor adventures close to home. Like a walk in the park. A recent Stanford study shows measurable proof that a simple nature hike helps mental health.
My recent mini-cure: 32 hours in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Technically, it was a work-cation, since our team was there to immerse ourselves in a few of the Saintly city’s welcoming new attractions. But it got me thinking. About travel. About the ways new experiences expand your world while bringing it closer. About how much fun even a quick getaway can be.
Between brainstorm sessions and interviews, our gracious hosts shared insider perspectives as we sampled local fare. Like a seafood boil dockside on Como Lake. A Nice Ride along the Mississippi River with historic insights from the National Park Service. A taste of Mears Park summer concert series in the hoppin’ Lowertown neighborhood, where we caught the (always-entertaining) Saint Paul Saints on “Irish Night” at the new CHS Ballpark. The night ended with a little post-game libation and more live music at a restaurant across the street before walking back to the Crown Plaza on the Riverfront.
The next day, after a scrumptious Buttered Tin breakfast and some window-shopping, we explored one of the city’s many historic parks, Swede Hollow. Since it bumps into the old Hamm’s Brewery site, home to present day Flat Earth craft brewing, we stopped in for a tour of the 150-year-old site—where the proprietor shared samples and regaled us with tales of the city (and brewery’s) Depression-era gangster past. It was the perfect way to end a visit: thirsty to learn and do more.
Whether or not you follow my footsteps in Saint Paul (which I highly recommend, by the way), it’s clear why we all need vacation. Maybe it doesn’t matter how and where you go, so much as when. In that spirit, here’s a challenge: stop what you’re doing. Make space in your schedule. And vacate.
Not so simple, you say? I completely understand and genuinely find it challenging to “get there” myself. So I’ll start first by filling out a company time-off request slip. Here goes. Maybe I’ll see ya on the trails, at the beach or in the city.
Happy travels. Here’s to your health.