A real vacation, where you completely unplug (or extremely limit your check-ins) with work and focus on things you want and like to do, has a variety of benefits to your physical and mental health. The fact is, careers are time-consuming and at times, challenging and stressful. Getting away from your responsibilities and focusing on yourself can do wonders, and reconnecting with yourself, your partner and family can positively impact other areas of your life. Unfortunately, a lot of people, especially business owners, take very little time off each year. And while many consider long weekends holidays, that isn’t enough to get the true benefits of a couple weeks on vacation.
So put down phone, tuck away your laptop and enjoy these eight reasons why vacations are necessary for your health…
1. Relieve Stress
Stress can have a negative effect on all aspects of your health–physically, mentally and emotionally. Headaches, back pain, anxiety, irritability, lack of concentration and frustration are just a few of the harmful effects of stress. In today’s world, we lead busy lives, and often our crazy schedules and the pressure we put on ourselves eventually turns into stress. Taking a vacation helps relieve the built up anxiety, which can lower your blood pressure, help you sleep better and build up your immune system. Stress can even cause you to gain weight, especially around the middle. Holidays will not only help you relieve stress, but can help you manage it better when you get back to the real world.
2. Clear Your Head
Life is hectic and your brain is often overworked. It’s as simple and as complicated as that. Always being on the go and taking care of your many responsibilities in both your personal and professional life can cause you to feel frazzled, confused and overwhelmed. Vacations can alleviate these problems, giving you a fresh perspective and calming your nerves. Taking a break from a jam-packed schedule will noticeably lower your anxiety. Even better, clearing your head and slowing things down often leads to great ideas and a fresh perspective when you head back to your job and normal routine.
3. Build Your Immune System
A busy life wears you down. You can fight it all you want, but eventually everything will get to be too much and exhaustion will set in. When you’re tired and stressed from work and your home life, you’re more susceptible to catching the cold and flu that makes its way through your office or kid’s class. With work and responsibilities comes stress and it can actually promote the risk of disease because of your immune system’s uncontrolled reaction when it comes into contact with a virus. Vacations can help relieve stress, allowing your immune system to build back up. Without the break, your body likely won’t be able to properly fight off viruses and other diseases.
4. Lower Risk of Heart Disease
When you don’t take your allotted vacation days, you could be doing serious damage to your heart health. Unlike in Europe where several weeks of vacation are not only paid but regulated and mandatory by law, a lot of North Americans don’t even take the standard two weeks. But skipping out on vacation can raise your blood pressure and increase your risk of heart attacks. Several studies show that taking a yearly vacation can lower your risk of heart problems by a staggering amount–according to a Framingham Heart Study, men are around 30-percent less likely to die from a heart attack and women have a 50-percent lower risk of having a heart attack.
5. Increased Happiness
While it would be nice if everyone found the job of their dreams and loved every minute of working, the fact is, many people don’t find this type of career satisfaction. And even if you are loving what you do, foregoing happiness on a personal level will eventually catch up to you. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and being happy goes a long way to mental stability. Happiness and good mental health can help you cope better with and prevent life’s stresses. Spending time with family or some well earned time alone allows you to enjoy life in a way you aren’t able to if you don’t use your vacation days.
6. Better Quality of Sleep
The stresses from a busy life greatly impact your quality of sleep–restlessness, insomnia, and not enough sleep hurts your health. It’s now common to be plugged into work right up until bed time and many people sleep with their phone, answering emails late in the evening or during the night when you should be allowing your body the rest it needs. According to the Mayo Clinic, when you don’t get quality sleep, you put yourself at risk of getting sick more easily, and the long-term effects can increase your risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Vacations allow you to break this routine, resulting in more peaceful sleep, as well as sleeping for longer.
7. Improved Family Health
Day-to-day routines and responsibilities get old fast. It can seem that days fly by without you really absorbing everything that makes life worth living. And you’re not the only one in your household who may be feeling disconnected and on auto-pilot. A happy home life will positively impact other aspects of your life. In turn, problems at home can negatively affect work and other relationships, and increase stress. By taking a vacation and reconnecting with your family, friends and loved ones, you’ll feel emotionally fulfilled, a requirement of good health.
8. Rejuvenate Your Body
People who take regular vacations can likely relate to how the time off allows you to rejuvenate your body, increasing your energy levels and providing a more positive outlook. With busy lives where you’re always on the go, your energy can be seriously lacking. Because of this, exercising regularly becomes less and less frequent, putting your health at risk and losing the happy endorphins from workouts. Going on vacation can snap you out of the less healthy routine you’ve had going and give you a fresh perspective.