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Don't Risk Burnout - Schedule Your Next Vacation Now

Copyright © 2007 Mary Ann Copson

Did you know:

Americans work an average of 9 weeks more per year than their European peers. Europeans typically take a full month off in the summer and the French take all of August off. This has not destroyed their economy.

People who can't seem to relax and renew on weekends have a higher long-term risk of dying from heart disease, a research study in Finland suggests. Men and women who said they "seldom" recovered from work fatigue and stress were about three times more likely to die of heart disease or stroke as workers who "almost always" recovered.

Other studies show that the increased stress and fatigue from working long hours and not taking time off can lead to weight gain, cardiovascular problems, chronic fatigue, depression and addiction to alcohol and depressants.

In the US, more than one-third of workers will take the office with them on vacation, according to a recent CareerBuilder.com survey. Sixteen percent of workers say their supervisors expect them to stay in touch while on vacation and 19 percent plan to check in voluntarily. Of these workers, 61 percent will be checking voicemail or email on a daily basis while on vacation.

The United States is the only industrialized country that does not have guaranteed four weeks paid vacation. Australia and Italy are the leaders in mandatory vacation with 6 weeks of paid vacation regardless of how long they have been employed.

The fastest growing economy in the world, China, offers three weeks off. They call vacation time "Golden Weeks."

American workers are expected to give back 574 million vacation days this year. (Expedia.com's annual vacation deprivation survey)

Only 39% of American families will take even a weeklong vacation next year.

Besides dramatically cutting the risk of heart disease, vacations have a number of other health benefits. Vacations can cure burnout and chronic stress. Time away from stressors restores depleted emotional resources and your sense of mastery and optimism. Studies also show that time off increases your positive moods and your initiative and competence. The more leisure activities you are involved in the higher your general satisfaction with Life.

But it takes two weeks for this process to occur, so you need to have at least that much continuous time off to get the recuperative benefits.

It?s not too late! Schedule next year's vacation now!

But that is still a long ways off. What can you do right now for rest, relaxation, and renewal?

Take a restorative break with:

a candlelight dinner with no TV

a walk (leave the iPod home)

really listening to your favorite music

sitting on the beach just watching the waves

visiting a forest for an hour of contemplation

playing a game with your kids

getting a massage

or soaking up the moonlight before retiring at night

Even small things like this can improve your health, happiness and productivity. Taking time out to nurture yourself is not only a personal choice but also has public policy implications for the productivity and well-being of the nation.

Mary Ann Copson is the founder of the Evenstar Mood & Energy Wellness Center for Women. With Master's Degrees in Human Development and Psychology and Counseling, Mary Ann is a Certified Licensed Nutritionist; Certified Holistic Health Practitioner; Brain Chemistry Profile Clinician; and a Health, Wellness and Lifestyle Coach. Reconnect to your physical, emotional, mental, psychological and spiritual natural rhythms at
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