Out of office sign on work chair because employee knows the benefits of vacation

THRIVE

Importance of taking a vacation

  • 212 million vacation days get forfeited annually
  • Simply planning a vacation boosts happiness up to 8 weeks before the trip

People in the U.S. are working more hours and taking less time off, bringing on various mental and physical health challenges. When work is overwhelming and your work-life balance feels out of whack, it’s time to ask yourself, “Should I go on vacation?” Taking a vacation offers many health benefits, but there are factors preventing people from taking a break. 

For example, layoffs and lean staffing make it difficult for people doing the work to get away. Some fear that taking a vacation will make them appear less committed than coworkers. The seven health benefits of taking a vacation outweigh the stressors that can come with planning a getaway. 

Seven health benefits of taking a vacation

Studies have shown that taking time away from the job can have physical and mental health benefits. People who take vacations have lower stress, less risk of heart disease, a better outlook on life, and more motivation to achieve goals. If you still need a little convincing, here is a list of some of the 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, the New York Times reported, 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

Neuroscientists have found that chronic exposure to stress can alter your brain structure and bring on anxiety and depression. When you take a vacation, feelings of calm arise and relieve stress, which allows the body and mind to heal in ways that it couldn't if it were still under pressure.

3. Greater well-being

According to a Gallup study, people who "always make time for regular trips" had a 68.4 score on the Gallup-Heathway's Well-Being Index, in comparison to a 51.4 Well-Being score for less frequent travelers. One study found that three days after vacation, subjects' 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

Many who return from vacation are more focused and productive. 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

Spending time enjoying life with loved ones can keep relationships strong. A study by the Arizona Department of Health and Human Services found that women who took vacations were more satisfied with their marriages.

6. Decreased 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. Another way to manage burnout is through the Oxygen Mask Rule: "Secure your masks before assisting others." In other words, address your mental, physical and spiritual needs before committing to responsibilities benefitting others outside of your immediate family.

7. Boosted happiness

Research shows planning a vacation can boost your happiness. Some people experience an elevated mood up to eight weeks before the trip. 

The bottom line is, take a vacation if you can. When you take time away from the stresses of work and daily life, it can improve our physical and mental health, motivation, relationships, job performance and perspective. A vacation 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

Share this article

MORE LIKE THIS

The secret condition no one talks about

Continue reading

EMPOWER YOURSELF


Get fun, inspiring, provider-reviewed articles sent to your inbox.

Sign up for our email newsletter