Take a Vacation, Science Says So
You need a vacation. It’s OK to admit that. Work is a grind. Every day can start to seem the same. Your daily routine has dug a deep rut. It’s time to crawl out of it. So, go ahead—make your daydream about a relaxing afternoon at the beach a reality. It might be just what you need.
That’s because the benefits of vacations are bountiful, and boost your overall wellness. Escaping your everyday life strengthens all the pillars your well-being is built upon. Many positives await when you leave your frustrations at home and immerse yourself in a fun, new environment.
And it’s about more than the warm, fuzzy feelings you get from dipping your toes in the sand. Although the warm-fuzzies do help (as you’ll see later). The benefits of vacations are backed up by science. That’s right. You have solid scientific reasons for stealing away for a while.
So, there’s no need to make up excuses to escape. The slideshow below has eight amazing (and scientific) reasons why vacations are good for your health.
Stress Melts Away on Vacation
This may seem obvious. Of course a vacation should give you a break from the normal stresses of life. But several studies support the stress-busting abilities of vacations.
They found vacations help you relax by removing you from your usual stressors—like your job and other regular responsibilities. This leads to lower cortisol levels (your main stress hormone).
One study found that it only takes most people (89 percent) a day or two to feel the stress dwindle. Another study showed that vacations have deep effects. It showed that stress-related gene activity was changed for those on vacation. So, it’s more than a feeling.
Vacations are Good for Your Heart
In one of the biggest, long-term studies of heart health (the 1992 Framingham Heart Study), vacations were shown to significantly impact heart health. The numbers were actually pretty staggering—and positive.
Women who don’t vacation (taking at least a week off each year) increased their risk for heart attack by 50 percent. The number was 30 percent for men. And more annual vacations taken corresponded with a lower risk of mortality for men at risk for coronary heart disease.
Exposing Yourself to New Experiences and Bacteria Strengthens Immunity
Your immune system learns. And taking a vacation can teach some valuable lessons. Traveling to different places exposes you to different possible pathogens. It sounds scary, but that can actually be a good thing.
This exposure adds to your immunity database. Here’s how it works: Antigens are proteins that identify unique pathogens. Your immune system uses these as bar codes that trigger the creation of a unique antibody. These y-shaped proteins attach to pathogens and mark them for attack. And this protection is very long lasting—in some cases, a lifetime.
So, traveling for a vacation doesn’t just open your eyes to new experiences. It expands your immune system’s ability to protect you. Because the more it knows—and the smarter it gets—the better it is at keeping you healthy.
Put a Smile on Your Face with a Vacation
Vacationing makes you feel better. And there are good reasons for that. When there’s less stress, a more care-free attitude becomes easier to attain than it is at home.
But there’s also a biological reason. The adventures, discoveries, and relaxation of vacation can bathe your brain in dopamine. That’s the happiness hormone, so your improved mood makes a lot of scientific sense.
Having Vacation Brain is a Good Thing
Your brain loves to vacation. It needs the break from your fast-paced life. When your wheels are constantly churning through daily tasks, you don’t have time to let life’s lessons sink in.
Research shows that relaxation allows new skills and information to put down deeper roots in your brain. This downtime also lets your brain click into a mode that makes connections and fosters creativity.
Vacationing in new places also puts your brain to work in different ways. You have to adapt to unusual environments. You’re in uncommon situations that require problem solving. This exercises your brain, keeping it strong and healthy.
Vacations Can be the Ties that Bind
Instead of days filled with work and chores, a family vacation is full of time dedicated to the people you love. This quality time, away from everything, helps vacations build and strengthen family bonds. Research shows that this applies to other relationships, too.
Studies throughout the years have consistently shown positive associations between vacations and fortified interpersonal relationships. A vacation provides the quality time and shared experiences that bring you closer to some of the most important people in your life.
The Best Employees Take Vacations
When you’re on vacation, the last thing you want to think about is work. But your relaxing trip can actually help you be a better, more productive worker when you return.
A study by Ernst & Young of its employees found performance scores increased with just 10 additional vacation hours taken throughout the year. Employees who vacationed were also more likely to stay with the company.
Taking a break staves off burnout, and improves creativity. Research even shows that productivity improves among workers who take vacations regularly. So, taking time off could be your ticket to unlocking your potential at work.
Vacations Help You Like Your Life More
Reduced stress. More dopamine. A better mood. New, memorable experiences. Improved connections with friends, family, or your spouse. It all adds up to the two most important benefits of vacations—happiness and satisfaction.
People who vacation enjoy life more, they feel happier, and their overall well-being increases. One study found that it takes a few days to shake off the stress of work and fully disconnect. But after that the good feelings flow throughout your vacation and max out on the eighth day. Escaping the rut of everyday life has been shown in numerous studies to give people a brighter outlook and increased satisfaction.
So, start improving your health and quality of life with a little get-away. Plan your vacation today—and do it stress-free with these great tips.