We’ve been feeling more burned out than usual lately, which is odd given it’s the end of summer—a purported time of relaxation—and the next real break for most of us is months away. This has us thinking about Europe, and the fact that most of those lucky enough to be born within its borders take off work the entire month of August. Can you imagine how relaxed you would feel after a full 30-day reprieve from work? How amped would you be to tackle tasks after such a long mental vacation?
If you can’t even stretch your fantasies so far as to be able to imagine this possibility, it’s probably because here in the states, we’re made to feel guilty for taking any vacation. According to a new survey by travel insurance company Allianz Global Assistance, millennial workers in the United States suffer from “vacation shaming,” which means their coworkers and bosses are indirectly discouraging employees from taking time off. “Many Americans, millennials in particular, are leaving vacation days on the table, which could be the result of vacation shaming—the sense of shame, guilt or other negative feelings received from co-workers for taking a vacation,” says Daniel Durazo, director of communications at Allianz, in a statement about the findings.
Project: Time Off also recently found millennial women are the least likely demographic to use their vacation days. It coined the term “work martyr,” which is a millennial who prioritizes face time in the office over vacation. We’re guessing this is not because millennials inexplicably prefer sitting at their desks to traveling Italy, and that it all ties back to the unspoken disapproval with which time-off requests are met in modern workplaces. “As for young workers themselves, many say they are too insecure and afraid for their jobs to make use of the vacation time they have available,” reports Time magazine. “This is even the case though they’re likely to have much less vacation time than their more seasoned colleagues.”
While you might not be able to effect change in your boss’s behavior, you can do your part by encouraging your co-workers to stay home when they’re sick, to take their full two weeks (or whatever time they’re allotted) to completely unplug from the office and refrain from making snarky comments—even in jest—when they return from breaks. In 2017, we need time off more than ever, as we’re almost never disconnected from the need to respond ASAP via text, email, Instagram and more. In the grand scheme of things, two weeks of vacation in an entire year is not a lot, and we should all feel comfortable soaking up every last minute—after all, no one ever says “I wish I had worked more” on their deathbed, right?