Unfortunately, we all know someone who makes comments like these (and could really use the benefits of taking a vacation):
“I have 87 unused vacation days!”
“I haven’t taken a vacation in 4 years.”
“Work is too busy for a vacation right now.”
“If I left, everything would fall apart.”
Friends of ours are sacrificing earned vacation time in fear of what might happen back at work or home. For the past 15 years, Americans’ vacation time has been in decline- but according to Project Time Off the tides may be turning since the benefits of taking a vacation include individual well-being, professional success, increased business performance, and positive impacts on the broader economy.
Here are 9 benefits you can experience when you take a well-deserved vacation.
Better Physical Health
Yes, an ergonomic chair can help your back hold out a little bit more in front of the computer screen, but stepping away from that fancy chair and relaxing outside in the fresh air can lead to improved physical health. According to Project Time Off, a vacation can lower your risk of heart disease, fight off more colds, and keep off unwanted pounds. A vacation can even make you look (and feel) younger!
Improved Mental Health
If you suffer from anxiety at work, getting away from the environment that induces stress can help improve your mental health. Weekends are great, but sometimes are filled with family activities, errands, grocery shopping, and meal prep. A longer period of time without the demands of balancing work and life is ideal to improve mental health.
Flash back to your childhood. Elementary aged children can’t be productive 8 hours a day, five days a week, 365 days per year. They need breaks to remain productive in the classroom. Recess, PE, Yoga, winter break, spring break and summer break are all built into a child’s schedule. So why don’t adults plan ahead to map out their own breaks and stay productive in the workplace? According to a study by Project Time Off, employees who use their vacation time are in fact more productive at work and earn promotions faster than employees who don’t take any time off.
Something to Look Forward to
A calendar with nothing on the horizon is like a cupcake without the frosting. Dull. If you do feel stuck in the same old routine at home or at work, having a trip planned can give you something to look forward to. Create your own advent calendar to countdown the days until your anticipated getaway.
Getaways have a positive impact on families and friends. Sports schedules, homework, working late, and phones at the dinner table can all get in the way of relationships. New shared experiences away from normal routines promote a closeness that can last well after the trip ends.
Change of Scenery
Even if you live by the beach, in the autumn colored mountains, or bright lights of the city, getting a change of environment is important. You can lower your chance of burnout doing the same old thing and seeing the same old scenery.
A Natural High
Just like a fantastic workout at the gym followed by a soak in the hot tub, a vacation can also give the same natural high. You can come back home with your energy reserves boosted, feeling recharged (and excited to plan your next getaway).
Children’s academic achievement can be enhanced through experiences from a summer family vacation. Kids bring back real life memories to write about, such as science from museums or witnessing a reenactment of the Revolutionary War, which is much more educational than reading about it from a textbook. Adult travelers also gain perspective of how the world functions outside of their own circle. A new way to take your tea, a new appreciation for modern art, and learning how to crush wine grapes are all experiences to broaden a traveler’s mind.
Vacation Happiness is Contagious
If you come back from your vacation with huge smiles, great stories, and glow on your cheeks, it will spread organically. Those around you will listen to your stories, and feel the vibes you exude, and they too will feel the great mood created by your travels.
Keep calm and vacation on! The brain can get used to the daily grind. Bringing the mind out of the routines of work and daily life and into vacation mode can bring a sense of calm and rejuvenation that everyone can benefit from.
If you are dreading the hundreds of emails, piles on your desk, and a Kilimanjaro-size mountain of laundry, consider trying a few things to make your vacation high last. Put vacation pictures up at work, as your phone screen saver, or on your refrigerator. Create a book with companies like Shutterfly to store your memories. Keep in touch with a new friend you met on your trip. If you took a pastry class, keep up the new hobby. Or follow your hotel or restaurant you tried on Instagram.
There is a catch of course to all of these benefits of taking a vacation. Once that “Out of Office” reply is activated on your email, make sure you don’t get tempted to reply or even check those emails coming in, until you return from your holiday. Now, go start planning your well-deserved, good for the soul getaway!