Last week I posted about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): How for 10% of people, the onset of summer triggers symptoms of depression. No, it’s not as common as winter SAD, but yes, it’s definitely a thing. And yes, it happens to me.
So this year I’ve decided to do something about it. Instead of sitting around in a blue funk, I’m heading off to check an item off my bucket list: biking through the Netherlands during tulip time. We’ll be riding to five cities — Leiden, Delft, Gouda, Schoonhaven, and Utrecht — then heading on to Bruges in Belgium.
I’ll be doing some of this:
And seeing this:
And going through towns like this:
Sure, it’s not skiing. But that’s okay. The off season is the perfect time to broaden your horizons in a way that’s a little bit different. Besides, vacations are important. Research suggests that 56 percent of Americans haven’t taken a vacation in the past 12 months. That’s 10 million more people than the year before. In fact, the US is the only advanced nation that doesn’t mandate time off. By law, European countries get at least 20 days of paid vacation per year; some receive as many as 30. Australia and New Zealand each require employers to give at least 20 vacation days per year, and Canada and Japan mandate at least 10 paid days off. What’s more, Americans are taking the least amount of vacation in nearly four decades. And some 25 percent of Americans and 31 percent of low-wage earners get no vacation at all, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
Pretty crazy, don’t you think?
People don’t take vacations for all sorts of reasons. Some are afraid of falling behind at work. Some fear losing their jobs. And some risk losing income when they’re not working.
This is really a shame. All of us need a chance to recharge the batteries; to blast out the cobwebs; to remind ourselves of what it means to be human again. Taking a vacation is good for your health, too. In a study of 13,000 middle-aged men at risk for heart disease, those who skipped vacations for five consecutive years were found to be 30 percent more likely to suffer heart attacks than those who took at least one week off each year. Vacation deprivation may be equally hazardous for women. In the Framingham Heart Study, the largest and longest-running study of cardiovascular disease, researchers found that women who took a vacation once every six years or less were nearly eight times as likely to develop coronary heart disease or have a heart attack than those who took at least two vacations a year.
All this is my way of letting you know that for the first time in the twelve-plus years since I’ve had this blog, I won’t be posting next week. Maybe the following week, too, but who knows.
When I do come back, though, I’m sure I’ll have some great stories to tell. So stay tuned.
See you on the flip side.