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vacation
June 26, 2015
By Kelly Cooper


“I just started a new job.”

“I want to save up time.”

“I don’t want to seem like a slacker.”

There are many reasons employees don’t take all of their paid time off (PTO). A study by the U.S. Travel Association found that in 2013, U.S. employees took an average of 16 days of vacation—abandoning about 169 million days of paid days off.

Why save up all that PTO for a rainy day when a summer of sunny days awaits you?! Whether you vacate or staycate, the time you put into vacation can actually benefit you when you’re back at work. In fact, the U.S. Travel Association study found that employees who left 11 to 15 days unused were 6.5 percent less likely to receive a raise or bonus than peers who took their vacation time. Here are some summertime activities that will leave you feeling rested, recharged and ready to take on the (work) world…or maybe that promotion:

  • Try something new. According to the Mayo Clinic, trying new things can lead to increased confidence and self-esteem, while also reducing boredom and loneliness. Vacation is a great time to try something different, whether it’s a new food, destination or activity. So what time is better than to try tapas for the first time, at a local restaurant in Spain after spending the afternoon at a bullfight! 

  • Go for a swim. Endorphins released while swimming are akin to the meditation effect felt during yoga. If contouring your body into complicated shapes and positions isn’t something that sounds appealing (or feasible) to you, take a step back to when a day at the pool was a day well spent.

  • Get lost in a good book (or even a magazine)! Reading reaps many benefits—it keeps your mind sharp, helps ward off depression and improves your quality of sleep—all which will help you be more productive and focused at work. Here are Amazon’s recommended beach reads for summer 2015.

  • Work up a sweat. If you’re feeling in a rut, you may want to try refreshing your body to refresh your mind. Exercise boosts creativity and improves learning, memory and blood flow to the brain. While the benefits increase if you exercise regularly, take advantage of warmer weather and enjoy something different, whether you get moving on water (paddle boarding), by land (hiking) or on the road (biking)!

  • Enjoy the quiet. Scientists have found that noisy surroundings (ahem, your friendly cubicle cohorts) can affect our short-term memory. Listen to the crash of the waves, track the flight of lightening bugs or lay on a blanket gazing at the stars. Plus, a little peace and quiet can also help you catch up on some zzz’s—behold the restorative power of sleep!

  • And while you’re at it, unplug! Everyone is dialed in 24/7; nearly half of cell phone owners have slept with their phone next to their bed. (I know I’m guilty as charged!) When taking a break from the office, consider also taking a break from your mobile crutches devices. Getting away from second-by-second updates can help you focus on what is happening in the moment. Besides, you can always upload those vacation selfies next week.

So whether you’re exploring the great outdoors, chowing down on new cuisine or simply enjoying some rest and relaxation, use some of those vacation days—it will have more wide-reaching benefits than you know.

Like this article? Read related articles on making the most of your summer:

Friday Fun for the IT Crowd: Apps of summer

Unlimited vacation: Changing corporate culture

As a writer in TEKsystems’ marketing department, Kelly Cooper develops content for brochures, presentations, and more recently, videos and blogs. When she’s not brainstorming puns, Kelly enjoys playing tennis and being by or on the water.

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