40 percent of Americans don't use vacation days

Posted at 8:53 AM, Jan 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-23 08:56:32-05

Travis Roe is a sales manager for the international company Hyland Software and knows how difficult work-life balance can be.

“In sales it’s a little bit of a high pressure situation,” he explained. “You always have to be on and you always have to be available.”

But he's found time away from it all through his company's new sabbatical program.

“I like doing things around the house, so I spent a lot of time doing that and then every week I tried to do something special for my family," he said.

The company started the program two years ago.

“So after eight years of service an employee can take a sabbatical, it provides employees to refresh and recharge and kind of disconnect from their professional life” said Kathleen Vegh, Manager of Employee Engagement at Hyland Software.

But Roe is the exception not the rule. The U.S. has been nicknamed the "no vacation nation,” reasonably so as experts find Americans have a bad habit of working non-stop, and it’s spinning out of control.

“We are so addicted to smartphones, tablets, pages, laptops, landlines, PC - you name it - that we don’t know how to be away from it all, matter of fact we’re bored when we are,” said Heidi Weiker, Stress Resilience Specialist and life coach at Spherica.

A recent study shows last year, more than 40 percent of people turned down their vacation days. Why is that so? Weiker said a big problem is fear.

“They’re afraid that they’re going to look like a slacker if they take time off…the second most reported reason would probably be it’s too overwhelming when I return, when I get back," she said.

She added that even when people take a stay-cation, they don't completely unplug.

“It’s just too hard for most people to sit at home, veg out, when all of this is around them, including all their technology. So unplugging for us means literally unplugging from all the to dos.”

While we all might not be able to take that Caribbean vacation right away, Weiker said anyone can practice unplugging, anywhere. It all starts with powering down.

The first time Roe tried it, he told me it was weird, but worth it.

“I had some anxiety thinking about the fact that I hadn’t checked my phone in so many hours, but as the days, turned into weeks, I didn’t even think about it," Roe said.

That’s why Weiker said when you do unplug the benefits will outweigh the cost.

“Not only does it improve what you would think it does, your overall health, some of the newest trending research says that the first to be promoted in the Lion share of companies are the ones that take their time off.”

If using your vacation time is foreign to you, she also warns against going cold turkey and using it all at once. Instead, she recommends starting off small by taking a day or a short weekend getaway to replenish and recharge yourself.