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7 Reasons to Take a Summer Vacation

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Health benefits of vacations are plentiful

Vacations provide opportunities for adventure and exploring new places, a chance to relax and unwind, learn new skills, gain insight, expand one’s perspective, strengthen connections with family and friends, create cherished memories, and more.

Project: Time Off, an initiative dedicated to promoting the benefits of time off, noted that, although 95% of workers say paid time off is important to them, more than half of America’s employed do not use all their earned time off. In 2015, this added up to 658 million unused vacation days and, 222 million of those were lost completely because the days could not be rolled over or paid out. The lost days average two full days per worker and $61.4 billion in lost and forfeited benefits. Why does this matter? Because there are many health benefits of vacations, and with taking time away from work and the benefits contribute to psychological and physical health and wellbeing. The benefits also impact peoples’ performance on the job, their relationships, and much more.

A look at health benefits of vacations show more:

Improves physical health

When the physical health of people who take time away from work is compared to their counterparts who do not take leave time, vacationers report feeling healthier, have less pain and report fewer physical complaints. Energy levels are higher and satisfaction with life in general is greater. People report improvements to their overall physical wellbeing after vacationing, with research showing that they live longer, have healthier hearts and a lower risk of heart disease. Vacations improve physiological health too demonstrated by decreases in blood pressure and improved cholesterol levels.

Boosts mental health

Additionally, people who take vacations boost their mental health, which benefits both them personally and has a positive effect on those around them. Employees who take time away from work report returning to the job with improved focus and creativity. They report having new insights into old problems and occurrence of other flashes of insight. Workers describe feeling more creative and inspired when they are faced with problems or challenges after having time away from the job. Other mental health benefits include more happiness and generosity. People who purchase experiences, including vacations, tend to be happier people than those purchasing material possessions, like a larger television. People who purchase experiences also tend to be more generous to others compared to purchasers of material possessions.

Enhances job performance

Companies that encourage employees to take time off increase morale, cut down on job turnover rates and increase employee retention rates. These employees report feeling less stressed, lower levels of tension, positive mood increases, and feeling more energized. Vacations that include opportunities for workers to recuperate result in people feeling more satisfied and happier with their life and more capable of facing heavy workloads with greater ease. Other benefits of vacationing include increased productivity, motivation, and job performance, greater investment in the company and more engagement on the job, more positive attitudes and elevated moods, and more positive and productive interactions between coworkers.

Even business owners who took time off report experiencing an increase in job performance after returning. They also reported having renewed energy and positivity, which was described as contagious and helpful to the entire team making the business more productive.

Time away from work can also allow space for inspiration, creativity and innovation. Vacation time is given credit for the inspiration that lead to creating Instagram filters and Dropbox, led to the development of Starbucks, and Lin Manuel Miranda’s creation of Hamilton.

Deepens family bonds

The benefits of vacations extend beyond workers and the work place. Connections can be deepened and relationships with a partner and other family members can be enhanced and improved. Family vacations can provide a boost to the mental and physical health of the whole family, allow opportunities for personal growth, learning, and to be inspired. Time together can lead to the creation of cherished family memories.

By now it seems obvious that time away from work creates many benefits, but by being strategic, you can increase and expand the benefits and multiply your happiness by three as you plan, experience and remember the next vacation.

Planning

Planning and anticipating a vacation can be fun and create feelings of happiness, anticipation and excitement. Discussing goals and what is important to you and your travel companions can guide your planning and enhance intimacy and connection as you plan. It’s important to give everyone an opportunity to express their needs, wishes and hopes, and to consider these in the planning. People’s vacation experiences are more positive if they have a say in the experience. By working to include what matters most to each person, everyone can benefit from the experience.

Deciding what to do might mean doing some research or coming up with a bucket list to work from. Experts suggest that good vacations could include mastering new skills, learning something new, one that includes relaxation time like at a spa, spending time in nature like a visit to a National Park, including one special highlight or peak experience, taking time to savor your experience, and saving something amazing and memorable for the last day. A great first question to ponder may be, “If you could go anywhere, what would you like to do and where would you like to explore?”

During

Preparing is important, but being flexible while you are away and adapting to the unexpected is also important. No matter how much planning and preparing you do, vacation stress is inevitable. Schedules change, flights get cancelled and luggage gets lost. Add to that, the unpredictability of the environment, sharing close quarters and being around family all day, disrupted sleep, adjusting to unfamiliar places— it all could add some stress.

When stressful events become the focus, the whole vacation can suffer. This means any benefits to health and wellbeing will essentially evaporate. One study looking at the beneficial effects of vacations found the better the vacation, the more emotional exhaustion decreased and mental health improved. Bad vacations are not good for anyone, but when something does go wrong, you might consider it an opportunity to practice building skills, like becoming more patience, adaptive, flexible, or increasing creative problem solving skills. By doing so, you may learn something new about yourself or your family members.

Coming up with solutions or adapting to change can lead to feeling satisfied with your efforts and results. It turns out that satisfaction plays a critical role in whether vacationers benefit from their vacation experience. Those who are most satisfied with their time away show more improvement to overall health, increased well-being and elevated mood. Vacationers who are less satisfied show little or no improvements to health and well-being.

After

Whether you spent time on your vacation exploring, relaxing, mastering a new skill, challenging yourself with adventure or connecting with loved ones, you will create memories. By being conscious when responding to stressors, open and curious about your experience and taking time to savor the moments, the vacation you take can be immortalized in your memory as a cherished experience. Recalling your memories can be one lasting health benefits of vacations long after your vacation has ended.