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Why I'm Vowing To Use All Of My Vacation Days This Year

It's time to take a break.
Looks nice, doesn't it?
Looks nice, doesn't it?

I have a confession to make: I am the opposite of "wanderlust."

Not in the sense that I refuse to go out on a Friday night or grab dinner after work, but that I only do those things. I rarely venture beyond the city where I live. I stick to my turf. I like my routine.

While I want to get out of town and explore a place unknown, I feel like I'm throwing all my responsibilities to the wind when I'm away. To compensate, I work remotely when I leave the city to visit family. I arrange most of my pleasurable trips on the weekends. I even figure out ways to make up time missed for doctors' appointments.

The worst part isn't that I do these things -- it's that I'm the only person pressuring myself to remain on when I'm technically off.

I left about four vacation days unused last year because I put my work first (and, let's be honest, when I was technically on vacation, I was checking my email from time to time). I'm not alone: Employees let approximately 4.9 vacation days go unused, and 42 percent of Americans didn't use any of their vacation days in 2014. That's a problem.

Burnout is a very real issue in the United States. According to a 2013 study, eight in 10 Americans are overwhelmed at work. Spending too much time plugged into our inbox and on the job can lead to severe stress, which can have serious health consequences, including an increased risk for stroke or heart disease.

But there's a simple stress antidote we're not tapping into enough: vacations. Research suggests planning a trip can increase feelings of happiness and taking space from work can actually increase productivity.

That's exactly why we launched Take A Break, a new initiative that's part of our HuffPost Lifestyle 30-day challenge series. With only six months left in 2016, we're encouraging you to use that time off -- any way you want. Whether it's planning a trip abroad, or taking an afternoon off to hang out with your kids in your own backyard, taking a break is less about where you go and how much you spend. It comes down to how you spend your time.

Each day we'll offer small tasks and tips that are designed to help you use those vacation days and discover your own adventure. Sign up here to receive our daily newsletter.

It's time to take advantage of a little time off. We can all find ways to #TakeABreak, sometimes we just need a little motivation to get us there.

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