CFR’s Fall 2023 Professional Development Workshops for mental health professionals looking to earn CEs are now open for registration. To learn more and register, click here.

Where Did Summer Vacation Go?

June 24, 2015


Summer vacation has been a ritual that Americans undertake every year since the 1950’s. I remember going to the Jersey shore each year with my family. It was a time to load up the car with a variety of clothes, bikes and beach stuff. We were going to do something different from our usual routine and it was a welcome relief for my hard working father. My equally hard working, stay-at-home mother’s routine didn’t really change that much; she still cooked a meal each morning and evening. But she never complained, so I figured she had a good time or just followed the script of many women in the fifties and sixties. Nevertheless, we went on vacation to relax and get away from the heat of Philadelphia summers.

In an article in Time magazine entitled “Who killed summer vacation?”, it appears that the summer vacation ritual has undergone a drastic change in recent years. So many people are not using their paid vacation days each year which totals over $52 billion that employees are giving back to their employers. According to the article the number of used paid vacation days has dropped from a high of 21 in 1982 to 16 in 2013, the last year that statistics are available. Why have workers stopped using precious time of from stressful jobs? Many (40%) report a heavy workload upon returning to work while others say that no one else can do the work.

When people find the time to take their vacation, they often do work related activities such as emailing and accessing their computers for other aspects of their work. All this work and no play may make both Jack and Jill dull, but it will also stress them beyond what is healthy. Physical health is compromised when the body does not get enough time to relax from its usual grind. Higher blood pressure and stress on the cardio system are just two examples. The psychological effects are increased anxiety and depression which leads to family relationship issues as well as difficulties in concentrating on tasks, which can lead to having to do tasks over which, of course, leads to more anxiety. It’s like Sisyphus pushing the proverbial stone up the mountain.

We need rest and relaxation time away from the stresses of our regular routines. Yoga and meditation can help but I believe vacating from the usual grind is the best medicine. So, if the Jersey shore is not your thing, go somewhere to get away from it all, and leave your smart phone and tablet home.