Escape, Explore, Energize: Six Health Advantages of Vacations
Who wants a fun way to be healthier? Perhaps now more than ever, we’re aware of all the things we need to juggle in order to keep our bodies and minds healthy. Health experts frequently remind us to exercise enough, eat the right foods, get all of the right vitamins and minerals, drink enough water, and somehow find time to relax. It can feel like a very impossible to do list!
But what if you knew that scientific studies actually support the claim that vacations can improve your health? Vacations are fun! It’s a lot more exciting (we think) to add “plan a vacation” to your list instead of “eat more broccoli” or “stop eating so much ice cream”!
Below, you’ll find six science-backed health benefits of taking a vacation.
6 Ways Vacations Will Make You Healthier
According to the US Travel Association, Americans left 786 million unused vacation days in 2018. Since the United States’ “grind culture” exalts the virtues of working nonstop, it’s no surprise that many of us are reluctant to take time off from work for vacations. However, more and more esteemed organizations like Forbes are pointing out that working all the time is unreasonable. Alternatively, it’s better to work smarter - by getting ample rest and returning to work to perform smarter and more efficiently.
1. Vacations help reset the sleep cycle and promote better sleep even after you return home.
We all enjoy feeling well-rested, but sleep deprivation is a common problem. Stress and anxiety can make insomnia worse, but a vacation is a good way to address the problem. In a fascinating study conducted by New Zealand Air, participants wore monitors on their wrists to measure the quality of sleep both before, during, and after a vacation. Researchers found that vacationers started sleeping at least one hour longer after just two or three days of vacation. And those longer nights of rest lasted even after the vacation, too.
Staying in a comfortable vacation rental home is a great way to catch some extra zs. Especially if you’ve been stuck in a rut - the new setting and bed is a great way to “reset” your mind as you prepare to wind down each night!
2. Studies show that vacations promote a healthier heart.
This study from the Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine shows that middle-aged men with a high risk for coronary heart disease were able to reduce their risk of death by taking more vacations. And again, another study suggests that women who take regular periods of rest and relaxation each year have a lower risk of heart attack.
3. You can improve your brain power and creativity by spending time living in a brand new place.
Looking to boost your creative brain power? In the article entitled “For a More Creative Brain, Travel,” author Brent Crane examines the benefits of living in a foreign country. In it, he discusses a variety of different studies conducted by neuroscientists and researchers.
The emphasis of these studies is how the vacation time is spent and its effect on creativity. Vacationers lounging by the pool all day may not experience a large burst in creativity. However, vacationers who “live like the locals,” or immerse themselves in the everyday life of the locals, open up the creative possibilities in their brain. This translates into more creative output. For example, in this fascinating study, Adam Galinsky found a link between creative directors of fashion houses who traveled abroad more frequently and higher-rated, more creative fashion lines throughout their careers.
4. Vacations may help reduce depression and other mental health problems.
In one fascinating scientific study, researchers in Sweden found that Swedes consumed less antidepressants during times when a higher percentage of the population had time for vacation. This implies that when more people have time for themselves to rest, relax, and engage meaningfully with loved ones during vacation, the less they suffer from mental health problems.
5. The basic act of planning a vacation can make you happier!
Researchers in this study observed the happiness levels of vacationers throughout the process of planning a vacation, taking the vacation, and returning to normal life. Researchers found that vacationers are happier in general than people who do not take vacations. Interestingly, vacationers were at their peak happiness levels when they were simply planning their vacations! While their happiness levels were generally higher for many days after the vacation, it is the planning phase that pleases most people.
If you need some inspiration for planning a vacation in West Michigan, you should check out 4 Unique Michigan State Parks near Unsalted Vacation Rentals and Shake Off Winter with a Lake Michigan Spring Getaway.
6. Your body and mind need you to take a break from the office! The longer, the better.
Another study reveals that a four-night vacation lowered stress and improved feelings of well-being in participants. These effects were observable as long as 45 days after the vacation! Interestingly, taking a vacation in a different environment enhances these benefits.
A second study published in The Journal of Happiness Studies focused on the benefits of a longer, fourteen day vacation. Scientists found that the health and wellness benefits of a vacation peak on the eighth day.
As you’re probably aware, reducing stress is a multi-faceted health benefit. It’s a great way to prevent burnout and improve mental health. But stress reduction can also ease chronic pain and make chronic conditions feel more manageable. Lowering your stress can also improve heart health, enhance sleep quality, and help you perform more efficiently when you do return to work! Check out How to Plan an Epic Self Care Vacation for inspiration.
Next Steps: Consider a Vacation in Michigan!
It can be tempting to believe that overworking yourself will increase your productivity - but the opposite is actually true. As we’ve discussed, scientists support some rather life-changing benefits of taking vacations! If you have a friend who needs a friendly reminder that it’s okay to take a break, make sure to share this article with them. Who knows? Perhaps a simple conversation is all the inspiration you need to begin planning the next vacation of your dreams!
Check out our extensive inventory of vacation rentals located all along the west coast of Michigan. Use the blue chat icon in the bottom corner of the screen to chat with an Escape Artist today!