Take Your Vacation Days!

Ah, vacation...that precious time away from the hectic pace of life and the stress of work. Have you taken a vacation lately? If not, why not?! With all the travel deals available these days, you can put together a pretty amazing trip on the cheap. And if you don't have a lot of extra cash right now, there's always the good old "staycation," in which you can just relax at home. If you're the type who feels guilty taking days off, let me tell you — taking your vacation time is important to your health!

Sadly, overtime has become the norm in the American workplace. While the overtime might get you a promotion, research shows it definitely doesn't help your peace of mind. Researchers have found higher rates of anxiety and depression in men and women who work overtime, compared with people who work 40 hours a week or less.

Even if you aren't working overtime, chances are you're working too much. It's estimated that one out of every three workers doesn't take his or her allocated vacation time. Your bosses may appreciate all that hard work (at least, they'd better!), but your heart certainly doesn't. One study suggested that an annual vacation was a lifesaver for middle-aged men at risk of coronary heart disease. At-risk men who got away once a year were 32 percent less likely to die from heart disease than were those who never took a vacation. Another study found that when compared with women who vacationed twice a year or more, women who seldom took vacations — once every six years — were eight times as likely to develop coronary heart disease. Don't make yourself a sitting duck for a heart attack. You earned that vacation — take it!

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