Jack Torrance, Jack Nicholson's character in the 1980 film The Shining, should get credit for popularizing (and making terrifying) a proverb that dates as far back as the mid-1600s: "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."
Nicholson's character sure looked like he could have used a vacation before his psyche disintegrated and he went on a murderous rampage.
In the real world, the danger isn't that we'll start obsessively and repeatedly typing proverbs at the Overlook Hotel before taking an ax to the door (one would hope), but that our country's hard-working denizens will keep getting sicker, sadder, less productive and more miserable.
Medical and poll-based evidence indicates that we seriously need relief. Work-related stress can lead to sudden heart attacks, obesity, anxiety and depression. A World Health Organization and Harvard Medical School study last year put the United States at the top of the list of depressed (or otherwise mentally disordered) countries, while the Gallup Daily Happiness-Stress Index finds that the only consistent upswing in mood occur when Americans get some time off on the weekends or holidays.
As John de Graaf, executive director of the Seattle-based advocacy group Take Back Your Time, puts it, Americans are "time-starved and vacation-starved."
Americans put in more hours at work than any other nation, surpassing even the workaholic Japanese. We average nine more weeks of labor per year than our working counterparts in Western Europe, who get at least 20 paid days of vacation each year.