Thursday, May 31, 2012

Vacationing to Better Mental Health

Are you or someone you know seeing a therapist on a regular basis?  Wondering why everyone seems so stressed out and agitated these days?  Let me give you some statistics to ponder:

  • A study done in 2006 showed that the average male US worker worked an average of 42.5 hours per week, not including commute time.  Australian men average 36 hours per week and France enacted a 35 hour work week by law (source info: US Workers and French Workers)
  • A 2009 CNN Poll showed that the Countries most stressed about money were the US, Malaysia, Singapore and China.  The least stressed were France, Italy and Russia
  • A 2004 WHO study showed that the USA ranked the highest in mental health disorders with 25% suffering from some form of mental illness. (source info: MSNBC article  
  • France is ranked as the best Country for quality of life.  The USA is ranked 7th out of the world’s industrialized nations

Now, as you are processing those stats, consider the fact that the US is near the bottom when it comes to the average number of days of vacation that the American worker takes per year.  Italy leads the pack with 42 days of paid vacation.  France comes in second with 37 and Germany rounds out the top 3 with 35.  Here in the good old USA, we average 13 days of paid vacation (source info: Vacation Stats).

Hmm...are you seeing any correlation here between mental health and the time we American’s take to wind down and “vacate?”

And to prove that we continue to be among the worst when it comes to taking time for ourselves and our families, a recent article in the USA Today explained that we now are leaving some of our earned vacation time on the table and taking less time off than in previous years.

This is not rocket science.  We work more hours and take less time off.  Some will argue that we are being more productive.  Possibly true, but that comes at the cost of our quality of life.  And what are we gaining by being more productive?  Job security? Ha!  I think not.  Larger bank accounts?  Our nation’s debt statistics would beg to differ.  Maybe we all should stop, take a look around, and realize that maybe there is more to life than our work and take some time for ourselves.  Maybe we should learn from other nations and see that life is not defined by where we work, but is truly defined by who we are away from work.

Maybe a little vacation time is just what the mental health doctor ordered.