“Vacation, all I ever wanted! Vacation, have to get away!” ~ The Go-Go’s
Hello from Grand Lake!
Every year, my husband and I take a week vacation in Grand Lake.
In the calm of Grand Lake, I use the week to do nothing and decompress. It is only then that I feel like I have the space to recharge, reflect, and find a reset. I feel like the fog can lift and I can get in touch with who I am again and what is truly important to me. I can remember what it is that makes me happy and begin to see a way forward toward the life I want. I feel like I have the space to energize and get motivated again to move forward toward my goals. I feel like I can refocus my healing path.
I did a little searching around ye ole internet and discovered that the healing benefits of vacation are not just in my head. Vacations are extremely beneficial to health.
According to ye ole internet, doctors have done research and discovered some very specific benefits to vacation. And as far as I can tell, the type of vacation doesn’t matter. It can be a sit on the beach and read books for a week vacation, or it can be a tour around Europe adventure vacation. From what I read, it’s more important that you step out of the daily grind and allow your mind and body to feel free.
So, what are the specific health benefits of vacations?
Vacations May Decrease Heart Disease
Vacations have cardiovascular-health benefits. This is kind of a no-brainer. As I talked about in a previous blog, stress is very harmful to your physical health. It dumps tons of extreme “fight or flight” hormones into your system that increase your heart rate, increase blood flow to the body, and increase lung capacity, just to name a few. It basically prepares your body to run for your dear life. But when you are stressed your body reacts like you are running for dear life 24/7. You see how that could be harmful, yes? With vacation, you are able to release that stress and allow your body to heal.
Vacations May Decrease Depression
A Marshfield Clinic study determined that women who vacationed less than once every two years were more likely to suffer from depression and increased stress than women who took vacations at least twice a year. Another study found that taking vacations contributed to higher positive emotional levels and less depression…and smaller waistlines.
Now, I’m not sure about the smaller waistlines as, well, I know mine doesn’t get smaller after vacation. But, yeah, let’s go with it!
In reality, stress does contribute to being overweight. But that’s for another blog.
Vacations May Improve Productivity
Ernst & Young found that for each additional 10 hours of vacation their employees took, their year-end performance ratings improved 8 percent (and they were also less likely to quit!) Furthermore, the Boston Consulting Group discovered that high-level professionals required to take time off were more productive overall than those who did not.
Vacations May Improve Sleep
When we are in our day-to-day lives, we have a lot on our minds. Our minds won’t stop spinning, which means we have a harder time sleeping. Which means we wake up tired and have a harder time focusing the next day. Which means we are less productive. Which means we think about all the things still needing to be done. Which means our minds are constantly spinning and we have a harder time sleeping. Which means we wake up the next day with less focus and alertness. Which means our productivity goes down. Which means…
…and then we have vacation. The vicious cycle gets interrupted. When we are physically taken out of our day-to-day lives we can take a breath. We can let go of some of those “to do’s” because we literally can’t do them when we are physically away from home. Instead, we can focus on ANYTHING ELSE! Our minds can stop spinning and we can sleep.
And then there’s the Germans. They take their vacations very seriously. In this article describing the German vacation ethic (yes, that is probably the best term for it), one German said, “(Germans) definitely go on holiday so that they are in good condition to go back to work.” And a Berliner said: “Germans vacation to work, rather than work to vacation.”
Furthermore, “(Germans) see (vacation) as a federally-mandated, and completely necessary, human right.” German law states that all workers get a minimum of 20 days off a year. And it is frowned upon if you do not take all that vacation time. But the government knows what they are doing. “German productivity, measured as GDP per head divided by hours worked, is valued at about $105.70. That’s about $4 more than in the US, where Americans work over 400 hours more than the Germans each year and have fewer holidays.”
So, Germany basically proves that vacations improve productivity.
Hopefully, all this information gives you some incentive to plan a vacation, or even a weekend getaway. I, for one, being on vacation right now, can tell you that it is pretty awesome!
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