- by Nina Huynh
By Makenna Roehr
Why You Should Take A Vacation
This far into the year, many Americans have yet to make use of their vacation time. After all, we live in a society that promotes working overtime and praises those who forego their vacation days in favor of putting in a few extra hours at work. However, this habit may be more mentally and physically damaging than it seems at first glance.
Over the past few decades, work-related stress has incrementally escalated to the point where it now holds the title of the most significant source of stress for the majority of Americans. These increased levels of workplace stress have been shown to be correlated with a higher risk of coronary heart disease, hypertension, and other disorders. According to the American Institute of Stress,
- 40% of workers reported their job was very or extremely stressful.
- 25% view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives.
- 29% of workers felt quite a bit or extremely stressed at work.
- Job stress is more strongly associated with health complaints than financial or family problems.
This data represents a mere portion of the severity of workplace stress in the American population.
In light of these damaging effects, vacations and time off have become increasingly vital to an individual’s overall health and wellbeing.
Mental Health Benefits of Taking a Vaction
- Trip planning alone has been shown to improve levels of happiness. If there are no major issues during the planning process, coordinating a vacation provides a distraction from work-related stress. It also presents the opportunity to joyfully anticipate a relaxing break weeks before the vacation actually takes place.
- Vacations can improve energy and productivity levels at work. According to Harvard Business School, 94% of people who experience a “good” vacation return to work with either as much or more energy than they had before leaving for vacation. The mental break also presents time to recharge and return with increased motivation and a higher capacity for productivity.
- Vacations are positively associated with overall life satisfaction. Vacations, especially with family or loved ones, have been proven to promote work-life balance. They can also create a more lasting positive outlook on life and leave you with fond memories to look back on.
- Even short vacations have beneficial impacts. Studies have shown that even three-day trips result in lower both perceived levels of stress and levels of the “stress hormone” cortisol.
- Vacations make you feel good. Not only do vacations provide a safe haven from stress, they can also result in higher production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that contributes to the feeling of happiness.
Physical Health Benefits of Taking a Vacation
Stress is not only detrimental emotionally. Years of research have shown that stress negatively impacts the normal functioning of the brain and can lead to cardiovascular damage. Vacations are successful in reducing the negative effects of stress by providing your body with a temporary reprieve.
- Vacations can improve sleep quality. Trips can increase the quality of sleep by temporarily removing some of the variables that disrupt sleep such as working late into the night, using a backlit screen before bed, setting an alarm early in the morning, etc.
- Vacations reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attack. Taking the time to de-stress and relax with loved ones or without the pressures of work decreases the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease. In other words, not taking a vacation increases the chances of experiencing a heart attack.
- Time off improves brain health. According to Allina Health, “chronic stress can actually modulate a part of the brain that inhibits goal-directed activity and can cause problems with memory. Time off can tune up a well-functioning brain.”
Not All Vacations Are Equal
Although vacations typically result in the benefits shown above, trips that contain high levels of travel-related stress have a negative impact on both mental and physical health. In order to prevent this from happening, be sure to plan your vacation well in advance and ask for help when needed.
So instead of letting your vacation days go unused, plan a vacation with your loved ones and enjoy the myriad of mental and physical benefits that accompany taking time off of work this year.
How we can help in your mental health journey
Norooz Clinic offers various counseling services that can help people with their anger problems. Call us today (949) 242-9720 to schedule an appointment. Our therapists speak English, Farsi and Spanish.
Allina Health. (2017, June 14). Importance of taking vacation. Why Vacation is Important | Benefits of Taking Vacation |Allina Health. https://www.allinahealth.org/healthysetgo/thrive/importance-of-taking-vacation.
The American Institute of Stress. (2021, February 9). Workplace Stress. The American Institute of Stress. https://www.stress.org/workplace-stress.
Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. (2020, February 3). The Importance of Taking Vacation Time to De-stress and Recharge. Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. https://www.bbrfoundation.org/blog/importance-taking-vacation-time-de-stress-and-recharge#:~:text=A%20study%20released%20last%20year,Your%20Risk%20for%20Heart%20Attack.
Harvard Business School Publishing. (2014, November 2). When a Vacation Reduces Stress - And When It Doesn't. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2014/02/when-a-vacation-reduces-stress-and-when-it-doesnt.
Robinson, A. (2017, July). Four reasons to take a vacation. https://www.apadivisions.org. https://www.apadivisions.org/division-28/publications/newsletters/psychopharmacology/2017/07/vacation.