If you have vacation time and you haven’t made plans for how to use it, you need to make it a priority to do so. While you may think that leaving the office is more hassle than it’s worth, you could not be more wrong. In fact, using your vacation days to travel benefits your physical, mental, and emotional health and will help you be more productive when you return to work.
Regular Travel Improves Your Health
When you travel at least once a year, you improve your health, according to a joint study by the Global Commission on Aging and Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies in partnership with the U.S. Travel Association.
Specifically, the study found that women who vacation at least twice a year have a significantly lower risk of developing a heart attack or coronary death compared with women who vacation every six years or less. As for men those who take an annual vacation have a 20% lower risk of death and approximately a 30% lower risk of death from heart disease.
Traveling Lowers Your Stress Levels
Traveling helps you escape your daily rat race and the pressures of work. When you use your vacation days to explore a new place or visit a favorite destination, you benefit by unplugging, taking a break from email, and spending time with friends or family or relaxing during a couple’s getaway or solo trip. And, you’ll feel less stressed almost as soon as you arrive at your destination; the same joint study we mentioned above found that 89% of respondents saw a significant reduction in their stress levels after only a day or two of traveling.
Similarly, another study found that three days after vacation, people have better quality of sleep and an improved mood as compared to before vacation. The positive effects of vacation remain five weeks later and are even stronger in people who took personal time and were more satisfied during their travels.
If you’re still not convinced that traveling is good for your health and reduces stress levels, consider this: simply planning a vacation takes your mind off your troubles and improves your sleep, lowers your blood pressure, and relieves your tension. When we travel, we get fresh air and sunshine, which increases oxygen levels in our blood and gives us more energy and exposes us to vitamin D to combat depression.
Relaxing and Playing on Vacation Boost Your Mental Health
Of course, you have to take the right vacation to maximize the mental health benefits of traveling. If you get stressed visiting family, save that trip for the holidays and use your other vacation time to relax and play. If you love outdoor adventures, take a trip that involves mountain climbing, hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, or trail running.
If you love the beach, find one with white sand, crystal blue water, and adults-only areas. If you love feeling like a kid again, visit an amusement park and ride as many roller coasters as you can. The key is to plan a vacation that will help you kick back, take your mind off work and other stressors, and have fun.
Another way to ensure total relaxation and fun to boost your mental health on your vacation is to plan ahead. Make your reservations, book your tickets, and finance your travels ahead of time so you don’t have to worry about any last-minute surprises. Then, make arrangements for someone take care of your home and pets while you are away.
Ask neighbors to collect your mail and keep an eye on your home, leave a few lights on, and avoid sharing details about your trip on social media until you return. As for your dog, skip the kennel and hire a dog boarder. These people will care for your dog in their own home and love him and care for him just as you would, and you’ll rest more easily knowing that he isn’t in a cold, impersonal kennel.
Using your vacation days is good for you, and you should make the most of your time off to travel to improve your overall health and lower your stress levels. You also boost your mental health when you take a vacation that involves relaxing and having fun.
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