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Mood-boosting benefits of vacation time can be ‘fleeting,’ survey shows

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Photo: BrianAJackson/iStockphoto

Washington — A few days away from the office may help clear your head and leave you feeling more positive about work. But how long does that positivity last once you return? Not long at all, say about two-thirds of respondents to a recent survey conducted by the American Psychological Association.

Researchers at APA, as part of the association’s annual Work and Well-Being Survey, examined responses about time off from 1,512 adults who reported being employed either full or part time, or were self-employed.

Among the results:

  • 68 percent said their mood was more positive after vacation.
  • 58 percent said they felt more productive.
  • 57 percent said they felt less stress.

However, 42 percent of workers said they dreaded returning to work after vacation, 40 percent said the positive effects of vacation lasted only a few days, and a quarter said the effects disappeared immediately upon returning to the job.

“Unless [employers] address the organizational factors causing stress and promote ongoing stress management efforts, the benefits of time off can be fleeting,” said David W. Ballard, who heads APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence. “When stress levels spike again shortly after employees return to work, that’s bad for workers and for business. Employers can do better.”

Additionally, 59 percent of workers reported that their organization’s culture does not encourage taking vacation time, and 62 percent said the same about their supervisor.

“When an organization’s culture encourages time off, employees are more likely to benefit from vacation time and those benefits last longer,” a June 27 press release from APA states.

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