It has probably been awhile since you've gone on a proper spring break. Typically, this punctuated pause in the beginning of the year is relegated to college kids who party their way through the nearest beach town.

But for any and all professionals out there, now is actually the perfect time to refresh by using a few of your well-earned vacation days.

Why wait for the annual summer vacation to do something fun with family, friends or even solo? Chances are, you believe that you don't really need a vacay just yet, or simply that this isn't a good time to leave. But if you're wanting to move forward in your career, taking a break is crucial component. Here's why:

Couple camping in the forest.

You (Likely) Have the Days

Did you know that 429 million paid vacation days are typically left on the table each year by U.S. employees? That's about four days per worker. By not taking these days, you're essentially volunteering for your company. And although you may think that if you work harder and are more available, you'll reap more rewards... you're wrong. According to a 2014 report by Oxford Economics for the U.S. Travel Association, employees who left 10 to 15 days unused were less likely to receive a raise or bonus than those who used all of their vacation days. So, whether you take a long weekend or take a whole week off, generally your days are available to be used.

You'll be Happier if You Do

The mere act of planning to use your vacation days results in elevated happiness levels. So, why not spread the anticipation affect throughout the year? Rather than taking little to no vacation at all, use the days throughout the year to plan things you're passionate about. Perhaps it's a day of writing or a planned excursion with your kids. Simply having that to look forward to is enough to make you happier. Emilie Aries, burnout expert and CEO of Bossed Up, a professional training organization focused on sustainable careers, explains the importance. “Investing in your personal sustainability isn't just the right thing to do, it's the strategic thing to do," she says. "A growing body of research shows that happier, healthier people work harder and are more productive over the long term. Smart companies that get it are even starting to invest in their workforce in new ways, knowing the important ROI they can gain from doing so."

You're a Healthier Employee

Skipping out on vacation days makes you sick... literally. The correlation between your overall health and how much you vacation is real. More than 50 years of research reviewed and published in the American Journal of Epidemiology shows that 10-hour or more workdays elevate coronary heart risk by 80 percent, likely because of the increased exposure to psychological stress. Your health depends on occasionally removing yourself from the daily grind. Taking an adult spring break and getting away from the stress is good for your heart (and soul).

You're more productive

Taking more vacation days does not make automatically make you more efficient for efficiency sake. But it does force you to be more productive with the time you do have in the office, according to a study published in Harvard Business Review. If having less time hanging around the office causes you to get more done, why isn't everyone hitting the road to take vacation? “This is a culture problem we're dealing with," Aries says. "Daring to take a real vacation might feel like swimming up-stream, especially if burnout work culture is strong in your office. But by setting the example, you're leading the way to a more sustainable culture for all workers. That becomes especially apparent after you come back to work refreshed and ready to go with more energy than all your beleaguered coworkers slumped over their desks!"

It can be hard to get away. Whether you've been worried about negative consequences or you fear what might happen in your absence, remember that taking those days this spring will result in a happier, healthier, more productive you.


Maxie McCoy is a writer and speaker with a message: how to find and follow your inspiration for an extraordinary life. Maxie delivers inspiring writings, actionable video, and customized sessions on 
maxiemccoy.com. She also develops curriculum and offline experiences for the Millennial career website, Levo.