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August 27, 2012 / mike54martin

Give Yourself a Break


Canadians may not be the hardest working people in the world but we’re in the top ten of most lists when workers in developed countries are surveyed. This applies to number of hours worked per week and month, and in fewest vacation days given and taken. Some recent studies have suggested that about 25 percent of us don’t even take all the vacation we are entitled to.

That type of dedication is worthy of praise but given the fact that on average we only get 19 days per year of vacation it is both surprising and maybe a little disturbing. When asked why they didn’t take all their vacation owed to them most people said they were too busy to get away.  That’s a good excuse and their employer will be happy, at least in the short term. But in the longer term both the employer and their committed staff member may pay a big price for not taking a break.

That’s because there is demonstrated and scientific information that suggests that not taking a vacation can have dramatic effects on the build- up of extra stress and tension that leads to chronic diseases and illnesses as well as contributing to the declining mental wellness of Canadians. But instead of focusing on the negative why not have a look at some of the positives of taking a vacation.

Here are two recent studies that offer proof of these benefits. First, a study by Air New Zealand showed that people who take a vacation get three times more deep rejuvenating sleep after a vacation. In turn this allows the body to recover more quickly from any illness and helps to strengthen the body’s immune system.

In addition research by the State University of New York that surveyed 12,000 men between the ages of 35 and 57 found that men who took a vacation every year reduced their overall death risk by 20 percent and their risk of heart disease by 30 percent. Similar studies on women have shown even greater impact of vacations as women who took regular vacations had up to 50 percent less risk of developing serious heart problems.

But the best reason of all for taking a vacation is to just give your brain a break. The amount of information that we have been asked to input into our heads is becoming overwhelming. Think about the number of passwords you have to remember just to log in at work or get money out of the bank. It’s not just that many of us always seem stressed out and anxious. It’s more that we have little room left for new ideas to get in or space for our creativity to get out. And that’s a loss for everybody.

So this year instead of making all the usual noises about being too busy to get away, listen to the Nike ad and just do it!! You (your family) and your employer will all be happier and better off if you decide to give yourself a break.

This post first appeared on my blog @

Mike Martin is a writer and the author of The Walker on the Cape, a mystery set in Grand Bank, NL. For more information please visit


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