State Health Commissioner Says Taking a Day Off on Labor Day Can Be Good for Health

Cites Health Impact of Stress on an Overworked Society

Albany, N.Y. (August 31, 2007) - New York State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., today urged all New Yorkers who are able to take Labor Day off to make it a day of rest and recreation.

"Rest, recreation and socializing with family and friends are all important to good health," said Commissioner Daines. He urged New Yorkers who are not on their jobs or on call Monday to "Turn off your Blackberry this weekend and relax with family and friends around the backyard barbecue. Take the weekend to de-stress."

Dr. Daines noted that working long hours and not taking time off for relaxation can have a detrimental effect on health.

According to a 2006 survey by the American Psychological Association, work is the number one cause of stress for Americans. Stress can contribute to symptoms of illness, including headache, sleep disorders, difficulty concentrating, short-temper, upset stomach, low morale, depression, anxiety, and, not surprisingly, job dissatisfaction.

"Many workers who are entitled to time off are hesitant to take it, and when they do take a day they remain wired in to their workplace by e-mail and cell phone," Daines said. "Labor Day is intended to be a day of rest and relaxation as we celebrate and honor the American worker. I urge all New Yorkers who can to take this day to rest and relax with friends and family members."

According to the Economic Policy Institute, in 2004 Americans on average worked more hours than workers in 18 other industrialized nations. Japan, which historically has led in work hours, now ranks behind the U.S. New Zealand is virtually tied with the U.S.

Dr. Daines acknowledged that on Labor Day workers who perform vital services, such as police and fire protection, ambulance service and hospital care, may not be able to take the holiday off.

"The essential services these workers perform are greatly appreciated," Dr. Daines said. "Hopefully, they will celebrate an extra day of rest on another day of the week."