The Real (Totally Preventable) Reason You Might Be More Stressed Than 3 Years Ago

Summer has landed, and that means putting those vacation days to use! Or does it? According to Glassdoor, the average U.S. employee has only taken about half (54 percent) of his or her eligible vacation time/paid time off in the past 12 months.

What's more, two in three Americans (66 percent) surveyed this year report working when they do take vacation. 

So, not only are we not using all those precious vacay days, we're also not unplugging in a healthy way. With the access smartphones and tablets give us, we're becoming culprits of multi-tasking our vacations. We're sitting on the beach, sipping our piña coladas, but instead of catching up on our People Magazine, we're scrolling through our work email—and hitting "reply."

It's not just our actual vacations that suffer either: A 2016 report from Project: Time Off says that we're missing out to the tune of $270 billion in unused vacation time. That’s 658 million days—a 21 percent increase from 2015.

Kind of a lot of cold, hard cash that we've earned, but are too nervous to take. That same report demonstrated that we're skipping our time off for one of two reasons: We either feel a sense of martyrdom in the world of overworked, overachieving employees, or we're terrified of that huge pile of work that awaits us when we return.

Neither of those are good reasons to hoard PTO that may or may not roll over into next year. And it's totally stressing us out. Millenial women are especially susceptible to the overworked martyr mindset, and are burning out by their mid-30s

How can we combat it? It's simple really: Take your vacation days and don't feel bad about it. In fact, a separate Project: Time Off study showed that workers who took more vacation days ended up with higher paychecks.

When you do step off that jet plane or sit down to lounge by the pool (or on the couch—staycations count too!), resist the urge to swipe left, or right, or up, or down on your devices. If you fully check out of work, you'll return feeling more productive, creative, recharged and reenergized. And that's a worthwhile vacation.