20 January 2013

The Importance of Vacations, for Stress Relief, Productivity and Health

Chanced upon these two wonderful articles, signifying the benefits and importance of vacations. Reproducing them for benefit of the wider audience.


Vacations Are Important For More Than Just Fun...

Many people don’t take vacations often enough. In fact, according to a poll on this site, around half of readers don't take annual vacations; in fact, many readers never take them! And now with increasing frequency, when we do take vacations, we often bring work along with us, keeping ourselves essentially still in the work mindset we’re trying to escape. This is unfortunate for several reasons: 

  • Vacations Promote Creativity: A good vacation can help us to reconnect with ourselves, operating as a vehicle for self-discovery and helping us get back to feeling our best.
  • Vacations Stave Off Burnout: Workers who take regular time to relax are less likely to experience burnout, making them more creative and productive than their overworked, under-rested counterparts.
  • Vacations Can Keep Us Healthy: Taking regular time off to ‘recharge your batteries’, thereby keeping stress levels lower, can keep you healthier.
  • Vacations Promote Overall Wellbeing: One study found that three days after vacation, subjects' physical complaints, their quality of sleep and mood had improved as compared to before vacation. These gains were still present five weeks later, especially in those who had more personal time and overall satisfaction during their vacations.
  • Vacations Can Strengthen Bonds: Spending time enjoying life with loved ones can keep relationships strong, helping you enjoy the good times more and helping you through the stress of the hard times. In fact, a study by the Arizona Department of Health and Human Services found that women who took vacations were more satisfied with their marriages.
  • Vacations Can Help With Your Job Performance: As the authors of the above study suggest, the psychological benefits that come with more frequent vacations lead to increased quality of life, and that can lead to increased quality of work on the job.
  • Vacations Relieve Stress in Lasting Ways: It should come as no surprise that vacations that include plenty of free time bring stress relief, but research shows that a good vacation can lead to the experience of fewer stressful days at least five weeks later! That means that vacations are the gift to yourself that keep on giving.
The bottom line is that taking a good amount of time away from the stresses of daily life can give us the break we need so that we can return to our lives refreshed and better equipped to handle whatever comes.

While not everyone is able to take a vacation, for those who can take several days or a few weeks off for a trip, I’ve compiled the following resources from some of About.com’s travel sites. These can help you plan the best type of trip for yourself so you can come back feeling ready for anything. (For those of you who can’t take off enough time for a traditional vacation trip, keep reading; I’ll have resources for you, too.)

Take a Vacation – You and Your Brain Might Need It!
By Karen Merzenich  

I love to travel, and I somehow manage to squeeze in a lot more trips than most people I know. So when I see hard and fast research supporting the health benefits of vacation, it really piques my interest.

I recently read a somewhat unscientific article that talked about why vacation is good for your brain, and it mentioned the work of Adam Galinsky and William Maddux. Digging into Galinsky and Maddux’s research further, I found there is a fascinating body of work about how traveling affects creative thinking. Maddux et al have published research findings showing that multicultural learning experiences enhance creativity, and that living abroad improves creativity measures of insight, association, and generation. Jonah Lehrer reports that research conducted by Lile Jia shows that merely thinking about faraway lands increases output in a creative task.

Further research shows that vacation can have recuperative health benefits. A study in middle-aged men at high risk for heart disease showed that those who took annual vacations had a significantly lower mortality rate (over a 9 year period) than a non-vacationing cohort. In a Japanese study of white-collar workers, Tarumi et al concluded that leisurely vacations could be beneficial in maintaining health and controlling fatigue in workers. A follow-up study showed that the white-collar workers who took vacations were also less likely to be depressed and less likely to miss work.

All of this has me thinking that I had better plan another vacation so I can be even healthier and more creative! Of course, I should take into account the work of Strauss-Blasche et al., who found that how you organize your vacation can affect the health outcomes. For example, participants in that study who experienced enjoyable free time, warmer locations, exercise, good sleep, and meeting new people on vacation reported feeling better afterwards, while people who experienced vacation stressors like health issues, colder climates, and bigger time differences were more exhausted when they came home.

And finally, there’s neuroscientist David Eagleman’s view about why it’s important to travel to new and different places instead of the same place over and over again. He has reported that our  perception of time quickens with age, and says “travel[ing] to novel places… essentially puts you — neurally — in the same position as when you were a child.” That makes sense to me, as I’m always looking to visit a new and exciting place.

1 comment:

  1. It is right somewhere the time spend in vacations really work for our health and much more like to create happiness around all, i would suggest too go for holiday.

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