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How do vacations benefit your health?

Vacations Benefit Your Health — And Here’s Why

With all your work and personal responsibilities, it’s not always easy to carve out time for a vacation. And it doesn’t help that the United States government doesn’t require employers to offer their workers any paid vacation or holiday leave. That’s not to say that companies don’t offer their employees paid vacation days, but a lot of Americans still don’t use them for various reasons, such as cost, guilt, and generally having trouble leaving work.

Although it can feel tough and irresponsible to get away from the office for a few days, you’re aren’t doing yourself any favors by working yourself into the ground. That’s because not taking time off work can adversely affect your health, with researchers from the University of Pittsburgh’s Mind-Body Center finding that it can actually be detrimental to your health to go too long without a vacation. But if you’re still unsure about taking those paid vacation leaves, here are three solid health benefits it can bring you.

Decreases stress

Since our society holds a bias towards hard work, spending hours and hours at our jobs has become a norm, and sometimes even required. But overworking yourself is one of the worst things you can do for your health, as the increased stress and higher chances of indulging in harmful substances can cause further complications. This not only means that your health will suffer in the long run, but it will impact your productivity too — making overworking extremely counterproductive. But the good news is, a nice relaxing vacation can reverse these effects, with research gathered by Stanford University’s Dr. Emma Seppala revealing that it can boost productivity and creativity. These can have a measurable effect on your overall health, as all work and no play can be demotivating and can lead to your brain feeling tired, making it harder for you to achieve peak performance at work.

Prevents heart disease

In line with the research mentioned above, less stress from taking a vacation also means lower risks of heart disease. Several studies have shown links between vacation time and a decreased risk of heart attacks or strokes. For instance, the New York Times reports that taking a vacation can help improve your heart’s condition, sharing that for both men and women, taking a vacation every two years compared to every six will lessen the risk of coronary heart disease or heart attacks. This shows how taking regular vacations not only lowers your stress levels, but also improves your overall cardiovascular health — further highlighting how vacations are important to ensure your physical wellbeing.

Aids in better mental health

Taking a vacation doesn’t only improve your physical health, it affects your mental health, too. U.S. News correspondent David Levine shares that most experts agree that taking a vacation has powerful mental health benefits, as it contributes to higher positive emotional levels, and lowers the risk of depression and burnout. It’s important to note that where you go for your vacation greatly impacts the changes it can bring to your mental health. For example, going to a place where you can connect with nature is better than going to an urban environment. An article on Parsley Health points out how even just 20 minutes in nature can positively impact your mental health — imagine what a whole weekend could do. Green spaces help to soothe symptoms of burnout, and can relieve stress, depression, and anxiety. And as previously mentioned in our post on ‘The Power of Self-Care’, spending time in the great outdoors is a great way to unwind and just enjoy the fresh air and sunshine, away from everyday stressors.

At the end of the day, going on a vacation gives your body and mind a chance to recharge. Seeing and experiencing new things energizes your brain and boosts your cognitive flexibility, which allows you to become more productive and creative at work. So, if your employer makes a fuss about you taking a vacation, tell them that you’re actually doing the company a favor by getting some downtime to re-energize.