Summer is the perfect time to take a vacation. But if you’re like many Americans, you’re not taking advantage of the time off you’re entitled to. According to Glassdoor, the average employee in the U.S. only takes half of his or her vacation time each year. Even when people do take vacation, 3 in 5 of them admit to doing some work while out of the office.

Skipping that well-earned vacation, or not completely disconnecting while you’re off, may be doing more harm than good. Research shows that the benefits of going on vacation exceed what you may perceive as your need to keep working without a break. In fact, not only is a vacation good for your physical and mental health, but it can also make you more productive so you’ll be more efficient at ticking off that to-do list as soon as you return.

Here are some important benefits of vacations:

Lower stress levels. Vacations can lower your stress level by removing you from the everyday stressors of life, according to a study released by the American Psychological Association. Getting away from the activities, environments and people that are a source of stress can help you relax, unwind and recharge.

Help you sleep better. When you have too much on your mind, it can lead to restless nights and a lack of sleep. This not only leaves you bleary-eyed in the morning, making it harder to focus and be productive, but it can also affect your physical health. Impaired sleep can affect the size of your waist and the health of your heart. It can also increase the risk of accidents and can diminish your quality of life. Vacations are often the perfect solution to getting more restful sleep – just what the doctor ordered.

Good for your heart. Studies have shown that taking vacations has actual cardiovascular benefits. The Framingham Heart Study showed that men who didn’t take vacation for five years were 30% more likely to have heart attacks than those who took at least a week of vacation each year. When it came to women, the study showed that women who vacationed only once every six years or less were eight times more likely to have heart disease or a heart attack compared to women who went on vacation twice a year.

Boost your mood. Research conducted at the University of Pittsburgh found that taking vacations contributed to higher positive emotional levels and less depression. After all, it’s hard to be down when you’re taking a break from the usual grind.

More productive at work. Research done by the Boston Consulting Group found that high-level professionals who took time off from work were significantly more productive than those who spent more time working. Ernst & Young, a professional services firm, also found that performance ratings increased by 8% for every 10 hours of vacation their employees took and turnover rates were lower as well.

Recharge your batteries. Not only will you come back ready to tackle your personal and professional life with renewed vigor, but taking a break from work can open the door to new ideas and enhanced creativity.

So this summer, make sure to fit in time for a well-earned vacation. You don’t need to go far to enjoy the physical and mental benefits of time off. You just need to spend some time away from the office and disconnect. Relax, have fun and enjoy some leisure activities. Your body, your mind – and even your boss – will thank you!

Sources:

https://www.healthnet.com/portal/home/content/iwc/home/articles/health_benefits_of_vacations.action

https://www.inc.com/lolly-daskal/4-scientific-reasons-why-vacation-is-awesome-for-you.html

http://traveltips.usatoday.com/benefits-taking-vacation-1755.html

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-heart/201305/take-vacation-your-health