Photo by Dudarev Mikhail/

5 good reasons to take more time off work this summer

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As the days begin to get a little shorter and a little colder, you might find yourself uttering these dreaded words: “I really wish I got up to the cottage more often this summer.”

You’re not alone. According to a  study conducted by, 24 percent of Canadians don’t use all of their vacation days, accounting for 32 million unused vacation days. Many report that they’re “too busy at work” to take a break.

We don’t want our readers to become another statistic, so here are five good reasons you should take more time off work this summer—and how you can convince your employer it’s in their best interest to let you go.

1. Connecting with nature will boost your creativity and problem solving abilities.

Don’t underestimate the power of a day spent hiking or out on the water. Spending time in the outdoors has therapeutic benefits, and has been used to treat everything from ADD to obesity.

But as far as your boss is concerned, getting outside can improve your performance at work. A University of Utah and University of Kansas study asked Outward Bound participants to complete word association tests. Unsurprisingly, the participants scored higher after communing with nature, leading the researchers to conclude that “higher-order cognitive skills improve with sustained exposure to a natural environment.”

2. Spending time at the cottage is good for your heart.

Scare tactics shouldn’t be a major motivating factor for making the trek up north more often. But it’s worth noting that in a long-term study of cardiovascular health (the Framingham Heart Study), men who skipped vacation were 30 per cent more like to suffer from heart attacks than those who took at least one week per year.

3. Taking time off will improve your overall workplace performance—and maybe even your loyalty.

Just like you can’t run a marathon on an empty stomach, or function without a good night’s sleep, it’s impossible to be productive without time off work. The brain—just like your heart—is an organ that needs to be replenished when you expel energy.

That’s probably why people who vacation more often receive better workplace evaluations. In a 2006 internal study of its employees, Ernst & Young found that frequent vacationers were not only less likely to leave the firm, they also had improved year-end performance ratings. For each additional 10 hours of vacation, they scored as much as eight percent higher.

4. A holiday will improve your productivity.

The benefits of one extra hour of sleep, or that coveted afternoon nap, are highly documented. A study of 21,000 UK employees founds that those slept for six hours or less a night were less productive. Sleep doesn’t only improve productivity though—it also improves your ability to deal quickly with situations as they arise.

You’re also more likely to get this much needed sleep while at the cottage. In 2006, researchers in New Zealand found that employees who took vacations were getting an additional hour of sleep a night, and their reaction time was improved by 30 to 40 per cent following their vacation.

5. Disconnecting entirely will reduce your workplace stress and prevent burnout.

While it may be tempting to bargain with your boss for an extra long weekend in exchange for a promise of working remotely or “checking in,” the best way to reap the benefits of a cottage weekend is by disconnecting—completely.

A study at Tel Aviv University that measured job stress before, during, and after vacations, found that those who are electronically in contact with their offices are more less likely to receive the benefits of time off and more likely to burn out. So stop pacing up and down the cottage lane in search of reliable reception and relax. Work will be there when you get back, but summer only lasts so long.