The mental health benefits of vacation time have also emerged in the research. A 2005 study by the Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin found that women who took vacations were less likely to suffer from depression than their counterparts who did not. The women who vacationed less or not at all also reported feeling more tired, more tense and less satisfied in their marriages.
Researchers from the Pittsburgh's Mind-Body Center surveyed women who had been recruited for four other studies on breast cancer, cardiovascular disease and other conditions. Of those surveyed, people who engaged in more leisure activities reported more life satisfaction, tended to be more religious in orientation, and reported having a large network of friends and family. De Graaft said that one of the most important benefits of vacation time is the family-bonding aspect, as one of adults' fondest memories of childhood are often of their family vacations.
The American way
According to experts, Americans are peculiar among developed nations in their lack of mandated vacation time. According to a May study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a progressive economic policy think-tank, in most European countries, paid vacation time of at least 20 days is the norm — with many countries requiring more. The United States, on the other hand, has no legally mandated leave, and only Puerto Rico mandates any vacation time at all. While private employers often provide paid vacation time, one in four Americans are offered none, forcing them to use unpaid or sick leave.
And paid vacation days are doled out unequally based on class in America. According to the CEPR study, “Low-wage, part-time, and small-business employees are all less likely to receive paid vacations or paid holidays, and when they do receive paid time off, the amount they receive is far less generous than what is available to their higher-wage, full-time counterparts with larger employers.”
In May, Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., introduced a bill that would mandate one to two weeks of paid vacation time for all Americans. Grayson's pitch for passage of the bill reflects the emerging research on the issue of vacation time.
“This is a matter of justice and equality for all Americans,” Grayson said in a press release. “Sure, some Americans receive paid vacation leave, but an increasing number receive nothing at all — and this comes at a time when middle-class Americans are working harder than ever. Requiring paid vacation leave will allow workers to spend more time with their families, improve their mental and physical health, and ultimately be more productive in their workplace.”
The bill has not progressed in Congress — they are currently on vacation.