Feeling vacation-deprived? Join the club — a new Ipsos-Reid survey shows 29 per cent of Canadians do not take all their vacation days every year and 33 per cent agreed they feel vacation-deprived at work.

The survey, in its sixth year and released by online travel portal Expedia.ca, found that lack of time, too much work, restrictive and unsupportive vacation policies at work and workload guilt from bosses and co-workers all contributed to fewer people taking vacation days. Only 21 per cent of Canadians missed taking all their vacation days in the same study last year.

“People have a hard time taking a vacation when they’re too busy to get away,” said Beverly Beuermann-King, a stress and wellness expert from Toronto involved with the study.

Beuermann-King says in her experience, people who don’t take vacations often think they are being more productive but in fact show much higher rates of absenteeism, drug use and disability claims than people who take a regular break.

“Not taking a vacation is a symptom of not having that work-life balance. If you don’t have time to take your vacation, then what else do you have time for?” she said.

For most people, a few days of fun and relaxation can make a big difference, but others may need to put their foot down and commit to some real time off.

“If you haven’t had a vacation in five years, a long weekend probably isn’t going to make you feel rejuvenated,” Beuermann-King said.

Getting into “vacation mode” can take a few days so Beuermann-King says to plan for a one- to two-week vacation if you need a longer break. Knowing yourself is also key to choosing the right vacation: people in repetitive jobs often find joy in doing something tense and adventurous, whereas people in stressful jobs tend to prefer something relaxing like lying on a beach, being served and not having to think about much of anything.

Sean Shannon, managing director of Expedia.ca, says even though the study is in its sixth year, he still finds the results a bit shocking.

“It always astounds me that there are hardworking Canadians who don’t use their vacation days,” he said.

Guilt can play a big role in whether people take vacations, Beuermann-King says, because work doesn’t go on vacation when we do, so plan your vacation well in advance, notify co-workers ahead of time and make preparations for your return to work before you go.

E-mails and duties can pile up upon return, so Beuermann-King recommends a little trick: tell people you’re coming back one day later than you actually are — this will leave you with one whole day to check messages and set things back in order. Forget vacation envy and take charge of your time off.

“Don’t get caught up in the jealousy — start planning your own vacation,” she said.

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