Hi there,

Vacation season is upon us, calling for some well-deserved relaxation. You know the drill — exotic beach getaways, weekend trips to a cabin, or chilled-out staycations. But this time of celebration comes with one huge caveat: most of us suck at taking vacation.

Whether you’re under pressure to meet deadlines, or still swept up in hustle culture, not everyone looks forward to time off. Over half (54%) of American workers feel guilty about taking vacation. In fact, our apprehension is so strong that 55% of paid vacation days went unused in the U.S. last year.

Even when we take vacation, most of us don’t do it right. A staggering 70% of Americans admit to checking in with work while on vacation — and 11% do so several times each day they're off.

At TDL, we don’t just talk the talk: we’re one of the few Canadian companies that offer unlimited time off. We know vacation is a necessary investment for everyone, and that if you're not logged off, you’re not doing it right.

But we know that's easier said than done. So today, we’re diving into the benefits of taking time off and sharing some evidence-based tips for how you can better disconnect — during your PTO and beyond. 

Until next time,
Sarah and the vacation-savvy team @ TDL

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Today’s topics 👀
🏖️ Deep Dive: What’s the point of vacation?
🛫 Field Notes: Going the Extra Mile
😌 Viewpoints: How to relax year-round
🏖️ What’s the point of vacation?

Taking a break from work comes with a myriad of benefits, including improvements to:

+ Our outlook on life. Time off refreshes our view of the world and ourselves. Just a single day of vacation gives us a better perspective on life and makes us more motivated to achieve our goals.

+ Our physical health. In a 9-year study of 12,000 middle-aged men, annual vacation was correlated with a reduced risk of death from all causes, including heart attacks.

+ Our neuroplasticity. Experiencing different environments — like traveling to a new country — can increase our cognitive flexibility. By engaging in foreign settings, we get better at making connections and increasing our depth of thought.

+ Our job performance. Going too long without a vacation makes us more prone to mistakes at work and increases our resentment toward co-workers. But the kind of mental break we get on vacation increases our productivity, replenishes our attention, and encourages our creativity.

🛫 FIELD NOTES: Going the Extra Mile

Did you know vacationers litter more on planes than business travelers?

Our research with a major airline didn’t just uncover the biggest litterbugs, but also how to get them to change their ways. By reframing cabin crew announcements, TDL was able to significantly decrease passengers' intention to litter on flights — for leisure and business travelers alike. Read more about the project on our website.

An air steward walks down the aisle of an airplane with a garbage bag.
😌 How to relax year-round

+ Don’t rely on vacations alone. Some of the positive effects of taking time off (and there are many) only last about a month after returning to work. Taking a week a year to recharge isn’t enough to boost your well-being year-round. Ensure you practice strategies during weekends and evenings to get rested.

+ Leave work behind. Employees who are able to detach from work at the end of the day report higher life satisfaction and less psychological strain — and as a bonus, they’re no less engaged at work than their peers. 

+ Don’t save breaks as a reward. While we tend to think leisure will only feel beneficial after hard work, research shows that there’s no need to experience them in that order. Unfinished work doesn’t diminish the enjoyment and benefits of leisure time.

+ Unplug. According to longitudinal research, leisure activities like playing sports, seeing friends, and traveling improve life satisfaction. What doesn't? Activities like watching TV or using the internet. Use your free time wisely. Even if you don’t have vacation days, you can try internet pioneer Tiffany Shlain’s 24/6 practice: giving up screens one day a week to mentally reset.  

How many of their available paid vacation days Americans planned to use in 2018: 36% all; 19% almost all; about half 18%; about a quarter 13%; and none 13%. From the Bankrate Summer Vacation Survey.
The majority of Americans didn’t plan on using all their vacation days in 2018, according to the Bankrate Summer Vacation Survey.
Regret Aversion
We’re scared of regret – so much so that we’ll act irrationally to avoid it. If you’re worried that you won’t be able to plan the perfect trip, you might put off taking it altogether. But studies show that we overestimate how much regret we’ll feel in the future. In other words, the science says: take that vacation.
Opportunities in Behavioral Science
TDL is hiring! We’re hiring for a number of positions, both remote and based in our Montreal office. Find out more by visiting our careers portal.
Want to have your voice heard? We'd love to hear from you. Reply to this email to share your thoughts, feedback, and questions with the TDL team.
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