Americans are known to be workaholics. You may thus be wary of taking a vacation even if you are given paid time off by your employer. Perhaps you fear that using your vacation time will make you seem less committed. Maybe you think that you have too much work to do.
You are not alone. One recent survey found that a typical American only uses half of his or her vacation time. Even those who do vacation often get contacted by their supervisor or co-worker during their trips.
Yet in the long run, working too much can be bad for you. In fact, not taking a vacation can make you stressed and unproductive. With COVID-19 travel restrictions being lifted, you should not hesitate to book a nice trip.
If you enjoy cruises 2022 should offer plenty of options. Yet even just relaxing on a beach or visiting a national park can boost your well-being. Here are some ways vacations can improve your health.
1. They Reduce Stress
The American Psychological Association recently found that vacations lower stress levels. Evenings and weekends alone do not give you enough time to forget about work deadlines or office politics. A vacation lets you focus on yourself for at least a few days.
2. They Better Your Mental Health
This lowered stress level should give your mental health a boost. Excess stress can change the structure of your brain and lead to depression or anxiety. Vacationing gives your mind a break from this stress and allows it to heal.
In fact, studies have shown that women who regularly vacation have a lower risk of depression. If you feel guilty about possibly taking time away from the office, consider that depression in the workplace causes billions of dollars in lost productivity.
3. They Help You Feel Better Physically
Too much stress can negatively affect your body, as well. Perhaps this is why vacations prevent heart disease in both females and males.
Research shows that women who take one or zero vacations every six years are twice as likely to suffer coronary death or a heart attack compared to those who take annual vacations. A similar study found that men at risk for heart disease who did not vacation for five years in a row were more likely to have heart attacks than those who vacationed for at least one week annually were.
4. They Let You Catch up on Sleep
Poor sleep can also wear down your body. People who do not get enough sleep often suffer from impaired memory and a lack of focus.
Yet if you are working non-stop, you may find it hard to shut off your mind and rest for eight hours each night. Even just looking at your smartphone or computer before bed can keep you awake. Vacations let you relax and catch up on much-needed shut-eye.
5. They Energize Your Brain
Most jobs require rote, repetitive tasks. Your brain may get tired of doing the same things over and over again. Vacations let you break up your routine. You can wake up at different times, be more spontaneous and explore new locations. This will give your brain the energy it needs to perform better at work.
How can you get the most health benefits out of your vacation? Spend at least some of your trip out in nature. Being in green spaces for just 10 minutes can have a positive effect on the brain.
Research varies with regard to the ideal vacation length. Studies show that just four days off can improve your well-being. Yet longer vacations may reduce stress more than shorter ones do. These benefits may peak after eight days, however.
Even if you cannot afford to take eight days off work in a row, you should at least use some of your vacation days each year. Your mind and body will be in better shape, and you will perform better once you do return to the office.
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