How Vacations Can Benefit Your Health
Some people feel guilty about taking vacations. Maybe they face pressure at their places of work to keep their noses to the grindstone, or maybe they worry about others having to take up the slack while they are gone. Whatever the case, you shouldn’t feel guilty about taking a vacation. In the first place, you earned the time off, and in the second place, taking some time away for rest and relaxation can actually help keep you healthier.
Physical Health Improvement
You probably know of many important ways to improve your physical health, such as exercise, healthy food, plenty of sleep, etc. However, taking off on a vacation, such as cruises from Florida, and doing nothing for a short time may be a vital key to improving physical health as well. People who don’t take vacations are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease, whereas taking vacations can help people live longer. This is a study that found a positive correlation between regular vacations and longer life but didn’t examine the question of why vacations help to improve cardiovascular health. A reduction in stress may have something to do with it.
Mental Health Benefits
The best-known way that vacations benefit mental health is by reducing stress. When the body is under stress, it produces a hormone called cortisol. This hormone can be helpful with dealing with short-term stresses, such as an immediate threat of harm. However, when produced consistently over time, it can have a negative effect on both the body and mind. You do not need to take a long vacation to reduce your cortisol levels; just a few days off can make a big difference.
However, there is more to the mental health benefits of taking a vacation than stress relief and reduced hormone levels. Vacations can also reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety and make you more resilient against them for a while after you get back. This may be because vacations take you out of the environments that you associate with stress. Going someplace new and seeing different things, or returning to places and activities of which you have good memories, can help to elevate your mood and combat depression.
Long-Term Life Satisfaction
As much as you enjoy yourself on vacation while it is happening, the good effects can linger long after you return. This may be partly because you form positive memories of the experience during the vacation, and you can then recall these once the experience is over. The mere remembrance can be enough to sustain you for some time. When you take vacations, it helps you to achieve a better work-life balance, which helps you feel more satisfied in each area of your life.
It is distressingly easy to become sleep-deprived. Reducing your hours of sleep per night by just a couple of hours can make you as impaired as if you had stayed awake for 24 hours straight. Unfortunately, the demands that other people place on you, or that you place on yourself, can make it difficult to get a sufficient night’s sleep. You do not have to meet the same demands during a vacation, and taking some time away may help you to establish a more beneficial sleep pattern.
It turns out, based on scientific research into workplace productivity, that taking some time off every once in a while is necessary to keep yourself operating at peak efficiency. A study demonstrated that people who kept working consistently were less productive than people who were required to take some time off. Better productivity can be a self-reinforcing process as well. When you get more done at work, you feel better about yourself, and when you feel better about yourself, you perform better at work, and so on in an upward spiral.
Don’t feel guilty about taking a vacation, and don’t let employers or anyone else pressure you into skipping it. Taking time off not only benefits you, but it also helps make you a better teammate at work, which benefits everyone.