Science explains why you should stop cashing in on your vacation days and actually take them this year.
A break from the day-to-day grind and exploring a new city or country fosters a healthier lifestyle. Rather than feeling guilty for taking time off, here are some of the best reasons why you should pack those bags and take a trip somewhere, anywhere.
Tackles stress – First off, physical health is a major factor to consider. The cliché, “all work and no play” is appropriate considering the detriment to your health a lifestyle led by constant stress can have. A study reported by the New York Times shows that the heart is the first to suffer. The study demonstrated that taking a vacation every two years compared to every six lessens the risk of coronary heart disease or a heart attack equally for both men and women. This goes to show how continued exposure to stress can be deadly.
Increases productivity – With respect to work ethic, vacations from time to time actually contribute positively to productivity at work. Results from a study done by Harvard on how productivity correlates with time off from work, proved this concept. Data retrieved from 20 countries known for having the greatest number of paid vacation days found that leaders in countries with more paid vacation days actually tend to work at a faster pace, and have a slightly higher quantity focus. Similarly, data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows that more hours worked actually translates into less productivity.
The New York Times echoed this sentiment in another article on relaxation stating, “the importance of restoration is rooted in our physiology. Human beings aren’t designed to expend energy continuously,” The Times reported. “Rather, we’re meant to pulse between spending and recovering energy.”
Avoids burnout – Burnout is a likely scenario when leading an endlessly strenuous lifestyle. Studies have also pointed towards the notion that “workers who take regular time to relax are less likely to experience burnout, making them more creative and productive.” According to about.com: workers who take time away from their daily routine return with new perspectives. By the same token, exploring a new place can inspire new interests which will not only make for a more well-rounded personality, but it can also inspire new hobbies. It is fair to say removing yourself from a situation enlightens the mind and embraces creativity.
Strengthens relationships – Time spent with your partner or loved ones apart from the usual, “how was your day?” conversation, promotes a sociological term known as crescive bond, which just means a “shared experience”. Time spent together away from the usual scenery and daily routine cultivates personal bonds and sparks connectedness.
Surprisingly enough, amid all the facts, Americans still only use a portion of the few vacation days they are granted each year. Besides helping cope with stress and avoid burnout, an increasing number of studies are showing that other mental health factors are improved by taking a vacation. The U.S. News and World Report spoke to experts who noted that one of the main benefits of vacation time is that it can improve your mental health. According to U.S. News, the relief of stress allows the body and mind to heal unlike that it could while still under pressure. The moral of the story here is, taking a vacation is essential to the bigger picture of life which many would agree is health and happiness. Overachievers and workaholics should all remind themselves that there is a point of no return, so strike while the iron is hot.