UNITED STATES─For so many Americans we do not take vacations like we should. It’s like we have that nagging fear of something bad happening to us if we choose to take some time off from work. Look America, I’m here to tell you that if you’ve been at a job for at least a year you are entitled to at least a 1-week vacation, at least that is the rule of thumb at most companies. The longer you are at a company, the more vacation time you get.

I will be the first to admit that I am someone who for reasons I cannot fathom would never take a vacation at one of my many jobs because I had this plaguing fire of bad energy. It got so bad it just put me on a path to burnout. Then a realization came to my direction: I don’t receive paid vacations with this job, so why am I so hesitant to take a few days or even a week off. If anything not only do I deserve it, I’ve earned it. Do not feel guilty about taking some time off from work people.

We already work too much America. We are always trying to please the boss at such an intensity level we forget about us. You can only do so much; yes at times work requires you to go above and beyond, but what good does that do you if you crash and burn in the process where you never recover? Just think about that for a second America work can actually kill you from the shear stress alone. We like to believe stress does not impact our bodies, but I’m here to tell you stress is not good for you.

With that said, I know plenty of people who are getting ready to take vacations to escape the wintery weather and head to warmer climate. So the question everyone asks is how do you prepare for a vacation? Well that is quite the loaded question if you’re actually traveling versus just taking a few days off. With that said, it all starts by making sure things that need to be taken care of at work are actually taken care of.

The last thing anyone wants is to worry about work while on vacation. The thought of being contacted by work while on vacation just creates anxiety for me. No one wants that stress, and I’ll be the first to say it. When I’m on vacation, I DO NOT WANT TO BE BOTHERED! If you’re contacting me it better be a damn good reason for doing it, like an explosive emergency. When you are contacted while on vacation, it is going to totally mess with your psyche, and as a result the inner peace you had is not disrupted and trust me it will be near impossible to get it back.

With that said don’t wait till the last minute to pack. If you do that you are bound to forget something, which means you create worry, which inevitably leads to stress people. Don’t create unnecessary stress if you don’t have to. This might be the biggest advice someone once gave me that I’m going to deliver to others: digitally disconnect from everything. It might be super hard to do, but turn off the cell phone, don’t bring your computer, laptop or iPad with you. Why? You won’t have to worry about work or other pressing things if you do not have access to them.

Recently, I broke my phone and in the process I was without a phone for more than a week. It was and I don’t know how to place this into words, the most peaceful week I can recall. My skin didn’t coil with the thought of getting a text message from work or someone contacting me asking for something. The cellphone might be the one device that I hate with a passion. Yes, it makes life easier, but the level of stress that comes with that digital device that keeps us connected to people, the internet and social media is just unrelenting. Being able to just detach from it, gives you a new perspective on life where you realize for centuries, for decades we lived without such technology, so as much as we think we need it to live, we do not.

Now that the vacation has started; the key is to enjoy it. Relax, decompress, sit by the beach, get a tan, go swimming, visit a nice restaurant, do shopping, have a family extravaganza, the list continues, it all depends where you vacation. If you’re not really going anywhere, but you happen to be sticking around town, there are still ways to decompress. How so?

There might be tons of things that you’ve been angling to do around the house that have been placed on the backburner. With that said, you might think you’re still doing work, while not actually at work, but to each is its own. A vacation is time to yourself and that is something all Americans need to remember.

What you do while you’re on vacation is completely up to you. Be smart about how you utilize that time because vacations are rare in the work place, and it’s not like you get 6 months of them. Most people if they are lucky get approximately 1 month out of the entire year when it comes to a vacation. That means you’re working 11 months the rest of the year. Use it wisely people because you’ve earned it.

Written By Zoe Mitchell