It’s a Catch-22 millions of workers face: You plan a vacation to relax, rejuvenate and forget all about the stresses of work. But being out of the office means cramming in extra work up until you leave — and making up for lost time once you return. So perhaps it’s little surprise that a study in the Netherlands found vacationers are no happier than non-vacationers after a break.
But this problem can be particularly acute in the United States, where the culture often pressures people not to take vacations at all: more than half (52 percent) of American workers leave at least some vacation time unused. Pre- and post-vacation stress is a major contributor to this problem. In a survey, 40 percent of men, and 46 percent of women said that just thinking about the “mountain of work” they’d return to was a major reason they hadn’t used their vacation days.
A different survey also found that taking time off was a source of anxiety, even though paid vacation was a benefit they’d earned. “In the past two weeks, I’ve worked 24 extra hours, at least,” said one respondent preparing for time away; another, who’d just returned from vacation, expressed the mirror-image problem: “I have felt very stressed about the amount of time it is taking to catch up.”
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