The majority of adults don’t take advantage of their full vacation time, working more days than they have to, and even fewer give themselves the permission to indulge in a vacation with the time they do take off. The result? Higher stress, blood pressure, and chances of heart disease. While getting away and saying goodbye to work may feel like a foreign luxury, the health benefits of taking a vacation make it well worth it. The benefits of vacation have been proven and will make you better at your job than an extra couple days in the office ever could.
One of the clearest health benefits of vacation days is a decrease in stress. To truly escape work, set up an automated response to email, letting clients and coworkers know that you’re out of town. According to the American Psychological Association, being removed from the environments and situations that normally cause you stress will lift a weight off your shoulders. A decrease in mental stress has physical benefits as well, giving you less headaches, muscular tension, and even heart irregularities, some of the most significant health benefits of taking a vacation.
Without the weight of work on your shoulders, you have a chance to recharge your battery, do what feeds your soul, and embrace moments of peace. Feeling refreshed will make you more productive and happy when you head home. Ernst & Young, one of the big four accounting firms, found among its employees that each additional 10 hours of vacation time an employee took resulted in an overall 8 percent improvement in their performance. Being more productive and doing well at work once you’ve recharged your energy on vacation will increase your overall happiness and job satisfaction.
Depending on the choices you make, establishing a healthy sleep cycle can be one of the health benefits of taking a vacation. At home, you’re likely tempted to stay up, staring at a computer screen to get a few more emails sent or forms filled out. You may be losing sleep spending late nights at the office, but on vacation, you can easily go to bed at a good time without distractions. Instead of staying out late every night, indulge in quiet nights of drifting off in a plush resort bed. Establish a bedtime routine of reading, meditating, or simply slowing down, waking up refreshed and focused.
While the rush of everyday life can make healthy choices less of a priority, use your vacation to make all the healthy choices you’ve been meaning to make. Slow down as you eat, and choose dishes made with whole ingredients and fresh produce. Make exercise a part of your daily routine, whether you hit the hotel gym or walk on the beach. Most travelers enjoy physical activities like hiking, swimming, or walking through town. Being active and eating right are some of the health benefits of vacation that you may not feel you have the time to enjoy during a normal day. However, your goal should be to make these choices a part of your daily life when you return home.
These health benefits of vacation far outweigh any benefit of staying in the office and not taking time off. You’ll return mentally and physically healthy, more productive, and less stressed. Start making vacation a part of your summer plans and part of your professional development.