Summer vacation season is winding down for parents of school-age children and just beginning for many who don’t have to worry about getting the kids out the door on time to make the school bus on Monday.  Have you taken a vacation this summer?  Or are you one of those who’s too busy to take time away from work?

Even in an economy where many families have had to scale back their plans, many are finding creative ways to use their vacation time to relax and recharge.  But, if you’re one of the many too-important cogs in the machinery of commerce, you are almost certainly only fooling yourself.  Just ask your business coach.

Taking a vacation is as important to your career and your company as it is your physical and mental well-being. Regardless of whether you are an employee, a busy executive or a business owner, a vacation recharges your battery and gives you a more positive attitude toward everything–from work to family. Then why does it seem so hard to get away?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American worker earns 12 days of vacation per year.   An astonishing 65 percent of employees did not use their earned vacation hours in 2010 while our European counterparts took twice as much time off—an average of 24 days!

If you think you're doing your boss or your employees a favor by not taking a vacation, re-think your strategy.  Vacations provide much-needed down time. They help to relieve your body of the chronic stress that can have harmful and lasting effects.   It's been estimated that 90 percent of doctor's visits are for symptoms related to stress.  Experts in stress reduction, medicine, productivity and human resources all concur that time away from the workplace is crucial. Vacations can break the stress cycle and give you a more positive outlook on… everything.

Taking a vacation can boost your creativity on the job and sharpen your attention span.  Because you give your body and mind a rest from your normal activities, vacations, like sleep, provide renewed vigor. It may take several days to unwind once you take vacation, and there may be hundreds of e-mails in your inbox upon your return, but you'll be better equipped to deal with them after a pleasant break.

Your business coach often challenges you to examine problems and opportunities from a fresh perspective, a feat far easier when your energy and creativity have been restored through a nice relaxing vacation.  So, if you haven’t already, plan on taking some well-deserved time away to relax and recharge!