A majority of Americans say they’re stressed at work. And it’s clear the burden of stress has negative effects on health, including an increase in heart disease, liver disease and gastrointestinal problems.
Still, though it’s been known for years that periodically disengaging from one’s everyday routine can reduce stress, most Americans don’t take advantage of their days off. A recent poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health finds about half of Americans who work 50-plus hours a week say they don’t take all or most of the vacation they’ve earned.
Rowan is hardly alone in his dedication to the job. Today, Americans take far less vacation time than they did a few decades ago, says psychologist Matthew J. Grawitch of Saint Louis University, who studies stress in the workplace. Research shows that, on average, Americans now take 16.2 days of vacation a year, compared with nearly three weeks of vacation in 2000.
That’s an unfortunate trend, he says; not only can time off help alleviate stress, it can also be personally rejuvenating and motivate people to be more productive once they return to the job.
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