Yep, you read that right. You can officially tell your boss that you’re going to need more vacation days for your mental and physical well being. Over the past few years, researchers have been analyzing the health benefits of travel. Does taking time off from deadlines, stressful projects, commutes, and family fights equal a more relaxed personality?
Turns out, that answer is yes! Evidence has been found linking vacations to everything from better blood pressure to higher energy levels. And no, that doesn’t only apply to vacations at spas or wellness retreats!
“We’re one of the only advanced economies that does not guarantee paid leave,” says Brigid Schulte, author of “Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time,” and director of the Better Life Lab at the think tank New America. “One in four Americans has no access to paid vacation, and those who do often don’t use it.”
“When you go away in the United States and other people are in the office, you feel guilty,” Schulte says. “But you cannot be productive 365 days a year, 12 hours a day. The brain doesn’t work that way.”
Studies show that while the average American earns an average of 24 days of paid time off, only about 17 of those days are used. Over half of Americans don’t use all their vacation time out of fear of being seen as uncommitted.
Richard Davidson, professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and founder of the Center for Healthy Mind, says “Research clearly shows that even being in green space for as little as 10 minutes has a demonstrable effect on the brain compared to spending 10 minutes on city streets.”
Not sure if you believe it (even though you want to)? Here are a few ways taking that much needed vacation will improve your wellbeing.
It will improve your heart health.
There have been some serious studies that show the connection with heart health and vacations. One study, which was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 1992, found that women who vacationed less, meaning less than one every 6 years, doubled their likelihood of a heart attack or coronary death than those women who took a couple of breaks from work yearly.
Another study found a similar result for men, stating that men who took less vacations were more likely to experience a coronary death than those who took vacations.
“It’s possible that people who have more work stress don’t feel like they can take vacation and die early,” says Brooks Gump, professor of public health at Syracuse University and the author of the second study. “But I think there’s a good chance that vacation does reduce your risk of heart disease. The next step is to figure out the mechanism.”
It will reduce stress.
Isn’t that the whole point of taking a vacation? But only now, science backs you up! Several studies have proven that vacations do, in fact, reduce stress.
While stress may feel like a mental obstacle, it actually has negative side effects within your body. Stress has been linked to poor blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and heart health.
Vacations are so good for stress, that just knowing you have a vacation approaching helps decrease your stress levels.
It will give you a brain boost.
Needing a creativity boost? Then it’s time to pencil in a vacay! “Neuroscience is so clear, through PET scans and MRIs, that the ‘aha’ moment comes when you’re in a relaxed state of mind,” Schulte says.
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