How many times have you gone on vacation only to spend your time checking your email and responding to messages on Slack? You might think these digital check-ins are harmless but, even though you’re not physically at the office, your mind is still there, turning your vacation into an extended workweek.
Unfortunately, overworking is a big part of the American experience. While other countries are implementing shorter work days (and reaping the health benefits), we work so much outside of office hours that we end up working an extra day each week without even realizing it. With all of this non-paid overtime, you’d think that we would take full advantage of vacations. But because overworking is so ingrained in our culture and many employers expect you to always be available, vacations have become the things we do in between answering work emails.
Here at Impact Health, we’re always helping people save money on their healthcare costs, whether we're getting them lower-priced medications, helping them contest their hospital bills, etc. But there are many not-so-obvious ways to lower your healthcare costs through preventive measures – like taking a true vacation.
Stress isn’t good for you, your health, or productivity
More than one-third of Americans experience chronic work stress and more than 60% of workers find it difficult to focus on work tasks because of stress. It’s estimated that stress costs American businesses 300 billion annually and results in 190 billion healthcare costs every year.
That’s why it’s so important to unplug from work. Not only does it give you more quality time with friends, family, and yourself, but that downtime and time away from technology actually helps your brain grow and develop, increasing higher cognitive function. So you don’t have to worry about “losing your edge” during a vacation because it will actually make you sharper once you do return to work.
Unfortunately, even with all the countless studies and statistics that back up the need for workers to unplug, there are still many employers that expect their employees to be in work mode all the time. If that’s your situation, you can still make the most of your “time off” by meditating or using these mindful tips and tricks to help you de-stress during the moments when you’re not answering work emails.
The importance of not working during Labor Day weekend
Labor Day is not just another holiday. It acknowledges the contributions American workers have made to our society while also paying tribute to the Labor Movement as a whole.
The Labor Movement was born out of a need to remedy the problems that arose during the Industrial Revolution. And, oftentimes, workers’ rights and healthcare reform went hand in hand. People were overworked so much that they would get (sometimes life-threatening) illnesses and diseases. Being sick meant a loss of income, pushing people deeper into poverty. It was a vicious cycle, and that’s why a health insurance system was proposed to protect workers in the early 1900s.
The conversations that sparked the workers’ rights movement and the foundation of our health insurance system are similar to the conversations we’re having now about the need for sick pay and access to affordable health insurance for all. Considering the history of Labor Day, it would actually be disrespectful to work during the long weekend. (Or at least that’s what you can tell your boss when they ask you to be available via email or Slack during the holiday.)
When you take a frank look at the way stress affects health, businesses, and the economy, there really isn’t a good reason for you to always be in work mode. That’s why taking a vacation is a really good form of preventive healthcare. And, honestly, what would you rather spend your money on? A nice vacation or extra medical costs because you’re suffering from stress-related diseases and illnesses?