Vacations aren’t just a time to escape reality, it’s a priority indeed. The essence of a vacation is to take a break from your habits, the monotony and your everyday routine. 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, excitement and fuzzy feelings you get from dipping your toes in the sand or watching the sunset while cruising. The benefits of vacations are backed up by science. That’s right. You have solid scientific reasons for stealing away for a while.
Studies show that they’re important to boost your overall wellness. Here are some reasons:
#1 Stress melts away on vacation
Whether you are experiencing a burnout or are embattled with lots of pressures at work, going on a vacation will dramatically reduce whatever stress you are experiencing. Stress doesn’t help you seeing things clearly. The chronic stress of your day-to-day routine can lead to fatigue, sleep problems and high blood pressure.
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.
#2 Vacation is 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 take vacation (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.
#3 Vacation exposes you to new experiences and ‘Bacteria’ which strengthens immunity
Your immune system is in a battle every day. That’s its job.
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.
#4 Vacation helps prevent depression
Sure, you’re happier on vacation, but your time off can have mental health benefits even after you come back to reality.
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.
A 2005 study at the University of Pittsburgh Mind Body-Center of 14,000 women (some of whom vacationed, while others did not) concluded that the risk of depression was dramatically reduced as they took more vacation. Study author Karen Matthews spoke to NPR about the study and said: “People felt healthier during vacation. They had a better mood. They were less tense. And they had a higher level of energy, and they were more satisfied with their life.” Now that’s a reason to smile.
#5 Vacation provide food for your brain
Your brain needs a break from your fast-paced life!. Not only does travel renew your zest for life, it also helps increase your brainpower!
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.
#6 Vacation helps you LOVE 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—pure joy and satisfaction.
People who vacation appreciate 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.
#7 Vacation helps improve sex life
Unplug and unwind. Spend some quality time with your partner between the sheets instead. A break from the stressors of life coupled with improved levels of happiness on vacation (and lowered depression and anxiety) can boost a couple’s sex life. And as a 2010 review published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine concluded, sex provides a host of mental and physical benefits.
Your vacation doesn’t have to be a lavish Mediterranean getaway. A vacation can be as simple as a “staycation” in your hometown or nearby city or a long weekend at your local lake.
Sometimes, the most simple things can bring the most joy. Happiness is not as expensive as you think. It could be a quality time with your loved ones on a sunny day at the beach near your place, walking in the woods and get some fresh air on a weekends, having breakfast at the park, fishing at the lake, gardening together, camping or hiking and a lot more.
What do you think?
Have you noticed that taking a vacation makes you feel healthier? When was the last time you took a vacation? What do you do during time off from work? How have you seen it benefit your health? How did you feel different after your time off? Do you have another vacation planned? What’s your ideal destination? Share your thoughts, suggestions and stories in the comments section below!