The Importance of Getting Away from Stress

By August 14, 2019December 31st, 2020Mental & Behavioral Health Well-being Wellness
A woman stands before the ocean, with her arms outstretched

How was your summer vacation — great or non-existent? If you said non-existent, there’s a good chance you’re like most Americans and only use about half of your vacation days each year.1 And, while it may be a good thing for your bank account, it could be hurting your health and productivity.

Before you let another summer slip by without a break, here are some things to consider.

Vacations improve health

Science has shown that the health effects of taking a vacation are more than anecdotal (although that relaxed, vacation vibe speaks for itself). Physically and emotionally, vacations have a positive effect. By removing us from the activities and environments that we associate with stress and anxiety, they have been shown to:2, 3

  • Improve sleep
  • Decrease blood pressure
  • Lower the risk of heart disease
  • Increase creativity and productivity
  • Improve well-being, mood, and happiness

Even “Hamilton” creator, Lin Manuel Miranda said, “It was no accident that the best idea I’ve ever had in my life — perhaps the best one I’ll ever have in my life — came to me on vacation.”

Unfortunately, even with the promise of these health benefits, Americans are still reluctant to take vacations. The reasons are what you might expect: worries about leaving work and the cost of taking a vacation.4

What you can do

Start planning now. The U.S. Travel Association suggests trying to plan your vacations for the entire year. If that’s too daunting, try for 2-3 months out. You will give yourself (and your manager) ample time to plan.

Plan four-day weekends. Research shows that longer vacations aren’t necessarily better than shorter ones, and your health and well-being rapidly increase just two days into a vacation.5 So consider taking shorter vacations throughout the year instead of cashing in all your vacation days at once for one long trip.

1 projecttimeoff.com
2 Fritz, C., & Sonnentag, S. (2006). Recovery, well-being, and performance-related outcomes: the role of workload and vacation experiences. Journal of Applied Psychology91(4), 936.
3 Hilbrecht, M., & Smale, B. (2016). The contribution of paid vacation time to wellbeing among employed Canadians. Leisure/Loisir, 40(1), 31-54.
4 The State of American Vacation: How Vacation Became a Casualty of Our Work Culture, projecttimeoff.com
5 Vacation (after-) effects on employee health and well-being, and the role of vacation activities, experiences and sleep

 

Sheila Perlick

About Sheila Perlick

I am a copywriter at IBX as well as a spouse, parent, dog owner, and kind of meh cook. Just like a lot of people, I am always looking for ways to make my day-to-day life easier so I can spend more time with family, sneak in a little more exercise, and (hopefully) get more sleep.