Head to the beach, eat more s’mores – vacation is good for you

Sunbathers on the beach at Southern California’s Catalina Island follow the reluctant but relaxing example of Gov. Jerry Brown and Anne Gust Brown.
Sunbathers on the beach at Southern California’s Catalina Island follow the reluctant but relaxing example of Gov. Jerry Brown and Anne Gust Brown. AP

Before heading off on his European vacation with first lady Anne Gust Brown, Gov. Jerry Brown noted that he was a reluctant traveler.

“I’m going because my wife likes vacations more than I do,” the leader of the world’s sixth, or maybe seventh or eighth, largest economy, told David Siders of The Sacramento Bee.

Our guess is that once there, he had a good time. Among the destinations: Italy, Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine. And he traveled in style aboard a jet owned by his friend, mogul George Marcus. Of course, they needed to fly. They could not very well have taken a canoe, Brown’s spokesman Evan Westrup noted.

Although Gust Brown may have forced the issue, the first couple did set a good example: We all need to take a vacation and chill.

Most Americans are even more reluctant than Brown to put their feet up. According to the U.S. Travel Association, about 55 percent of U.S. workers left vacation time on the table in 2015, and over the past 15 years, we have taken less and less vacation.

The report noted that 80 percent of employees would take time off if “they felt supported and encouraged by their boss.” Maybe the boss should take a vacation.

It seems silly to even argue in favor of vacation time, though. The benefits are self-evident. Time off can lead to more expansive thinking when you return to the workplace. Your adventures will relax you, and your mood will be improved.

Unless, of course, you dropped $5,000 on a week in Hawaii and you were pelted by rain and had to endure the volcanic fog – vog to the locals. More stress. But more appreciation for your paycheck. Also, vacation days are a form of compensation, so forfeiting them is expensive, too.

Idyllic moments are hard to come by in the workplace. Best-case idyllic scenarios at the daily grind are usually a slowdown in the rate of emails and phone calls or perhaps a chirpy greeting from the head honcho. Those are lovely, but they’re not a vacation. And they’re meaningless to your family.

In looking back at your childhood, was it Dad’s eager commitment to hit the August sales target, or was it Dad beaming while you caught a bass? Was it Mom’s well-written report for Q-3, or was it when she made the fried chicken at the cabin?

Any HR director could answer that one.

But seriously, the data come down on the side of leisure. Studies show that the likelihood of a heart attack is 30 percent higher among men who don’t take vacations. Women who don’t take time off are more likely to suffer from depression and less likely to be happily married. A 2015 study published in the Harvard Business Review found that people who take all their vacation time have a 6.5 percent greater chance at a raise or promotion than people who leave time off on the table.

So hit the road this summer. Go someplace fun. Load your loved ones into an SUV, a jet or even a canoe. When you get there, turn off the email and play Scrabble, or eat more s’mores than you should. You deserve it. So do the people, and economies, who depend on you.