The Health Benefits of Vacation
Spring break is here and my family and I are heading to Costa Rica at the end of April. I'm looking forward to the sand, the warm water, building sand castles with my kids and of course, the down-time. I used to feel guilty taking a break. I felt I had so much work to do and I didn’t want to get behind. But, it turns out that vacation is good for the economy, good for our health, and good for our kids.
If you’re feeling stressed out, perhaps you need a break. We Americans are prideful of our work ethic, but skipping vacations may actually be hurting us, and in turn, the economy. The health benefits of vacation are numerous, and they can be reaped by everyone in the family. They are a great way for adults to destress and prevent disease. So even if you can’t take a vacation, allow yourself to take a break and you will find yourself more calm and prepared to handle the twists and turns of life.
Vacation Is Important for the Economy
According to a study conducted between September to October 2013, researchers learned 40% of Americans didn’t take their allotted paid time off, which isn’t so good for the economy. If workers used all of their allotted paid time off, their vacation spending would bring “$160 billion in total business sales and $21 billion in tax revenues, which would support 1.2 million jobs in industries ranging from retail to manufacturing to transportation.” Employees stated that, although their employer supported them taking their paid vacation, the heavy workload kept them from using their earned days. Some of these pressures were self imposed, as most managers recognized the benefit of taking time off: stronger morale, more productivity, higher retention rates, and a myriad of health benefits.
Vacations Are Good for Your Health
Vacations aren’t just good for the economy, they are good for your health and mental well-being. According to the largest running study of cardiovascular disease, the Framingham Heart Study, men who didn’t take a vacation for several years were 30% more likely to have heart attacks compared to those who did. Women who only vacationed once every six or fewer years were approximately eight times more likely to develop coronary heart disease compared to those who vacationed at least twice per year. Other noted benefits include a decrease in the rate of depression, less stress, and greater productivity.
Vacations Benefit the Whole Family
You will find that taking a vacation helps not just you, but the entire family. According to a survey of British households, family vacations are considered “happiness anchors” for kids. Happiness anchors are defined as positive childhood memories, and guess which memories are most often fondly recalled? You guessed it - family vacations! Additionally, opting to take vacations over buying gifts teaches children to value experiences over things, and produces a strong bond within the family. It’s also good for brain development, as it stimulates the brain’s centers for creativity, curiosity and social intelligence.
Can’t Take a Vacation? Take a Break.
If you can’t take a full vacation, try to take a break. Taking a couple hours out of your day to do something you enjoy will relax your mind so that you can focus when you need to and make better decisions. Even better, take frequent mini breaks. Another tip is to separate your work life from your personal life in small ways such as keeping work email off your phone and not doing work during your off days. If you are able to, get out of the house for the day. Just 24 hours spent out of the house enough to reap the benefits.
If you’re one of the 49% of Americans who doesn’t take a vacation, maybe you should start. Your body and mind will thank you, and if you have kids, they will also be grateful later in life for having those experiences to fall back on. And if you’re not able to take a vacation, there are other options for keeping your mind and body feeling well.
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