Labor Day is an annual holiday that most people think of as the last day of summer or a great time to make back-to-school plans, or simply an opportunity to shop Labor Day sales. That said, it’s also a good opportunity to contemplate the meaning of Labor Day, and whether you need to take a look at your own work schedule.
Labor Day and the modern worker
Labor Day was initially created to honor workers and the value of hard work in society. Today, Americans are working harder than ever – according to a 2014 Gallup poll, the average full-time worker in the United States works 47 hours a week, not 40. That’s almost an extra day of work a week.
Why do we work so hard in the United States? The US is well-known for having a culture that prioritizes work over leisure. 41% of Americans don’t take all their paid time off, according to studies by the US Travel Association. Many Americans feel guilty about taking time off from work, or that their jobs might not be there when they return.
Breaks are good for you
Don’t be a martyr this Labor Day. The fact is that breaks, from short to long, are vital to your mental and physical health. Breaks help you physically relax, process information, and improve your mood – all things that will serve you well in life, whether at the office or at home.
A few steps to improve work/life balance this Labor Day
Request a vacation – and stick to it! Plan months ahead if necessary – some studies say that anticipating a trip is almost as good as taking it.
Eat lunch outside the office (or, if you work at home, make lunch plans with someone else). Even a short change of pace will do wonders.
No matter what you have planned, whether Labor Day massage or long lunch, enjoy your holiday.
Marcy is the SVP of People and Communications at Zeel. In addition to overseeing the humans of Zeel, Marcy has written about workplace topics for more than 20 years both at Zeel and as VP of Content for Vault.com, a career information web site and publisher.