Article By Ashley Rayner -
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that vacations are good for us—after all, taking time for ourselves to discover new places, to engage in activities we enjoy and even just to spend quality time with family and friends all seem like great things to do and pleasant ways to spend our time. But vacations have some other surprising health benefits that you may not know about. These 8 benefits show why taking even just a short vacation is good for you and everyone around you (including your co-workers!).
8. Vacations Decrease Stress
We’ll start with the obvious: taking a vacation is a great way to bust stress, a view supported by multiple studies and the American Psychological Association. The day-to-day grind of our hectic lives can leave us feeling overwhelmed, like we have too much to do and too little time. Often, we have competing demands: maybe there’s a big deadline at work that’s fast approaching, but you need to make time to care for a relative or child. Evenings and weekends sometimes aren’t enough time to unwind. Taking a vacation gives us more space and time for ourselves, to do the things we like to do and things we want to do. It allows us to get away from, say, the co-worker we don’t like or to forget about doing the laundry. Even though it’s a temporary escape, taking the time off can have a huge effect on our stress levels.
7. Your Health Will Improve
Several studies have shown links between vacation time and decreased risk of particular disorders and diseases. In the landmark Framingham Heart Study, taking regular vacation time was linked to a lower risk of heart disease, an outcome that was repeated in other studies, like the National Institutes of Health’s Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial for the Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease. While it’s hard to say if the vacation itself lowered the risk (perhaps by lowering stress levels) or if taking vacation time is just a habit of people who live lower-risk lifestyles, regular vacation time was definitely implicated in improved cardiovascular health. People who took at least 1 week of vacation each year were 30% less likely to take a heart attack than their colleagues who skipped vacation time. So book your getaway—it’s good for your heart.
6. Relationships Grow Stronger
It’s no secret that the key to successful relationships is spending time with other people. Unfortunately, our personal ties often take a backseat to professional pursuits. Working too much can not only put you under stress but also cause your relationships to suffer, especially if you start cutting people off, turning down invites or bringing stress into your interactions with friends and loved ones. A vacation allows us time to reconnect with the people we actually want to have in our lives. Traveling is especially good for deepening bonds between people: vacations are quality time for relationships and shared experiences, good and bad, help bring people together. People with strong bonds tend to feel less stressed, are less susceptible to disease and are less prone to mental health issues such as depression.
5. You Mental Health Will be Better
Physical health improvement isn’t the only benefit of taking a vacation; mental health is also affected by whether or not people take vacation time. A study by the Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin reported that women who took vacation time on a regular basis had a lower risk of depression. A study by the University of Pittsburgh’s Mind Body Center had similar findings. Again, multiple factors come into play—such as getting more Vitamin D by visiting a sun destination in the winter or simply allowing the body to recuperate—but there’s no denying vacation can lower the risk of mental disorders like depression and burnout. If your boss puts up a fuss about you taking time off, tell them you’re doing them a favor—depression-related losses in productivity cost employers around $79 billion every year.
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