Summer is officially here, and along with it traditionally comes a season when many families take time to vacation and be together to rest, regroup and have some fun.
I say "traditionally" because such vacations may be becoming increasingly rare.
There are no legally mandated paid holidays in the United States, but many businesses and organizations do offer their workers paid time off as part of their compensation package. However, Americans leave as many as 175 million available vacation days unused in the typical year. CNN Money reported that "about 57 percent of working Americans had unused vacation time at the end of 2011, and most of them left an average of 11 days on the table - or nearly 70 percent of their allotted time off."
I can certainly understand the stresses that might prompt workers to eschew time off and vacations – the economy is bad, unemployment is high, and overworked employees feel they can't take time away.
The unfortunate result is more and more Americans are making do without times of rest and relaxation.
But God Himself modeled the importance of rest for us. In Genesis 2, we read, "And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation."
Different denominations and faith traditions have various interpretations of the Sabbath, but I think we can all agree the principle of rest is one we would be wise to follow. After all, studies show taking time off is good for our health and increases our productivity.
The problem is, whether you're a high-level executive at a Fortune 500 company or a stay-at-home mom trying to keep a house orderly, dinner on the table and kids' homework up-to-date, many of us feel like we can't stop.
This summer, I encourage you to take some time to recharge. Not all of us can take a two-week vacation on the beach in Hawaii – although there's nothing wrong with that. But most of us can at least take a few days off a year to rest.
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