Like many people, you may view vacation time as a luxury. But taking time off is actually essential for long-term health, happiness, and productivity at work. Just like regular exercise and good nutrition, vacation time is important to your health and should be treated as such. Here are seven reasons you’ll definitely want to take advantage of your vacation days this year.
Vacations relieve stress, alleviate the pressures of day-to-day life, and allow workers time to rest and recharge. Chronic stress keeps the body in ongoing “fight-or-flight” mode, releasing stress hormones like epinephrine and cortisol into the bloodstream. Long-term exposure to stress hormones contributes to systemic inflammation and chronic illnesses like heart disease. Long-term stress may also contribute to cancer. Taking regular vacation time helps mitigate this stress response, and allows the body to reset, recover, and repair the damage.
Vacation time helps prevent illness. The relationship between stress and chronic illness is well established. Adrenal dysfunction related to stress suppresses the immune system, and contributes to increased colds and flu, irritable bowel syndrome and other inflammatory bowel diseases, diabetes, autoimmunity, obesity, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, depression, and anxiety.
Vacations improve sleep. Studies show that those who take regular vacations report a 20 percent improvement in sleep over those who skimp on time off. Reasons for this may be decreased overall stress, as well as the interruption of poor sleep habits — like working late into the night in front of bright screens. Vacation time means your sleep pattern is likely to regulate in healthier ways.
Vacations make you thinner. Many overweight individuals report overeating due to excessive stress levels. Stress hormones like cortisol are linked to increased body weight and belly fat — which are also associated with heart disease. Those who vacation regularly are consistently found to have decreased stress levels overall, as well as better energy and blood glucose levels, contributing to increased physical activity and lower body weight.
Increase your work productivity by taking regular time off. Taking time to rest and recharge helps workers avoid burnout and fatigue, and decreases sick days throughout the year. Liberal vacation policies increase quality of life, and also amplify workplace well-being and job satisfaction. Chronic stress takes a toll on mental performance and decision-making processes, so taking a break is like a reboot for the brain, making you smarter and more effective when you get back to work.
Vacation time strengthens relationshipsand families. Taking time off together is bonding, and creates positive memories and associations with loved ones. Couples who vacation report higher marital satisfaction, and studies also show that people tend to value positive, shared experiences above material goods when measuring their happiness. Getting away from daily stresses helps couples and families connect, creating closeness and positive associations that last long after the return flight home.
Vacations will keep your memory sharp, and increase mental focus. Chronic stress can negatively impact the part of the brain responsible for memory and goal-directed activities. Continuous work without adequate rest breaks or vacations inhibits creativity and problem solving skills, and contributes to burnout, disrupted concentration, distraction, and diffuse thinking.
With so many benefits to your health and quality of life, it’s important to take vacation time. By giving yourself a chance to rest, and recoup your optimal energy levels, you’ll return to your life refreshed, happier, more creative, and better able to excel at work.