happy family jumping together on the beach

THRIVE

A vacation may be what the doctor ordered

  • More than 765 million vacation days have gone unused by Americans.
  • Simply planning a vacation boosts happiness up to eight weeks before the trip.

People in the U.S. are working more hours and taking less time off, which can add stress as well as mental and physical health challenges. When your job is overwhelming and your work-life balance feels out of whack, it’s time to ask yourself, “Should I go on vacation?” While I recognize that not everyone can afford to take a trip or the time away, if you can, you may find mind and body benefits.

 

7 health benefits of taking a vacation

Studies have shown that taking time away from the job and everyday stress can have physical and mental health benefits. Vacations are linked to:

  • Lower stress
  • Less risk of heart disease
  • Better outlook on life
  • More motivation to achieve goals

If you still need a little convincing, here is a list of some additional benefits of taking time away from work.

  1. Improved physical health: Stress can contribute to heart disease and high blood pressure. For both men and women, studies show that taking a vacation every two years compared to every six will lessen the risk of coronary heart disease or heart attacks.
  2. Improved mental health: The University of Pittsburgh’s Mind-Body Center found vacations increase pleasant emotions while reducing depression. Vacations also provide a greater opportunity to experience moments of awe, which have also been researched and found to generate a boost in mood.
  3. Greater well-being: One study found that three days after vacation, people’s physical complaints, quality of sleep and mood had improved compared to before vacation. These gains were still present five weeks later, especially in those who had more personal time and overall satisfaction during their vacation.
  4. Increased mental motivation: Studies have found that chronic stress can make it difficult to achieve certain tasks and cause memory problems. Taking time off can be like getting a tune-up for the brain, improving your mental health and cognition.
  5. Improved family relationships: One study found that couples who participated in interesting, challenging, and exciting activities on vacation experienced greater relationship intimacy and satisfaction even after returning home and resuming typical life routines. Vacations also can be a time for siblings to connect in ways they are not likely to do in day-to-day life.
  6. Less burnout: Employees who take regular time to relax are less likely to experience burnout, making them more creative and productive than their overworked, under-rested counterparts.
  7. Boosted happiness: Research shows even the process of planning a vacation can boost your happiness. Some people experience an elevated mood up to eight weeks before the trip.

The bottom line

Take a vacation if you can, even if it’s a staycation. Time away from the stresses of work and daily life can improve your health, relationships, job performance and perspective. A well-timed trip can help you feel refreshed and more prepared to handle whatever comes when you return.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

  • Prepare for your vacation with a travel medicine appointment

    Learn more
  • Away from home? Do an online visit

    Start a visit

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