During my adolescence, I remember my father would often take all four weeks of his vacation at the same time. Other than a few trips to Washington, DC, our most frequent destination was Western North Carolina. He loved the Carolina mountains where he eventually built a retirement home. Spending time there allowed him an escape from the summer heat and humidity of Florida. The Great Smoky Mountains were our family’s summer playground. The time away helped my father have a break from the busyness and stress of a career that was filled with both.

Inspired in part by my father, my wife and I took most of the summer of our second year of marriage off to drive from Northeast Florida to Seattle Washington. We spent a few nights with family or friends along the way but mostly we tent camped our way across the country. We shared in some amazing scenery and created incredible memories camping and visiting Rocky Mountain National Park, the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Glacier, Mount Rushmore, The Badlands, Olympic National Park, Mount Rainier, and more. We enjoyed hiking, kayaking, and biking in some of the most scenic places in the western United States. Our vacation that summer lasted more than six weeks.

We knew that we wanted a family and if we were ever going to take a trip like that, we wanted to do so before becoming parents.

I worked hard that year so I could block out that time for our adventure and renewal time together.

According to Pew Research, more than four in ten Americans don’t take all their vacation days.

Almost half of Americans surveyed in a study conducted by Vision Council admitted that they were workaholics. The study also revealed that half of workers admit to working through lunch. One in five say they check their emails in the middle of the night.

A McKinsey Health study found that a quarter of employees experienced burnout symptoms. 76% of respondents in a Mental Health America and FlexJobs study agreed that workplace stress affects their mental health, and 75% experienced burnout.

Working hard should be the norm. But regular time off should be the reward for hard work – time away helps keep you passionate about what you do.

Workaholism, regularly working through lunch, and underusing your vacation days can contribute to burnout and increased stress.

While you may not have the luxury or desire to take an extended vacation like my wife and I did early in our marriage, consider taking some time off for renewal and relaxation. If you lead others, encourage them to fully take time off from the pressures of their work.

There’s simply nothing quite like time away to boost morale and productivity. Take a pause today to start planning your next get-a-way.

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