Scientific Proof you need a holiday [vacation]!

How do you know you need some Vitamin Sea? Is there really scientific proof you need a holiday?

The annual thaw in the northern hemisphere signals the arrival of the glorious season when sweaters are shed, toes are painted, and Birkenstocks are brought out! The signal for these activities underscore what you already know: you need a holiday from the routine, preferably under a beach umbrella! But getting some warmth and sunshine is a MUST! ☀️

While holidays (as called in the UK – “vacations” elsewhere!) are known to be good, too many people don’t indulge. Research has found that people are taking fewer days off since 2000. The answer for this trend lies in complex reasons rooted in capitalism, but we’re going to focus on the product: You want a vacation, but the desire doesn’t mean you are going to go on one. There can be several reasons for this, not least cost – and the rise in cost of living, meaning our budget is squeezed and perhaps cash priorities are being placed elsewhere.

Perhaps look at it this way… The science is clear. A 2023 study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity suggests that just three days without work and work-related tasks can be good for you. The research into vacations shows that we need to embrace a new mindset: Vacation isn’t frivolous; it’s healthy. Like going jogging or eating a salad, taking time off is essential to well-being.

Vacations are so healthy that some experts argue that they might help treat certain diseases, including dementia. Traveling improves well-being by exercising our sensory processing and movement skills and giving us a sense of freedom. In a 2022 study published in Tourism Management, researchers highlighted a link between elements of travel, such as anticipation and planning, and healthy brain function.

While vacations can be mentally beneficial, we have power over how much mental health benefit they provide. For example, knowing that you have a lot of post-vacation work to come back to can eliminate the potential positive effects of the trip. However, restful vacations can buffer post-vacation work stress. Before going on a trip, cross off your to-do list and then completely unplug.

Another way to maintain that post-vacation buzz is to look at the photos you took while on vacation. Reconnecting with your experiences when you travelled can promote well-being and happiness in itself. Meanwhile, the 2023 study on the effects of three days away from work offers another helpful takeaway: Long vacations can be more beneficial for mental health than short ones, but both do good. Take the time, even if it’s just a few days.

The data collected suggests that people engage in more active, healthy behaviours when on vacation compared to their non-vacation selves. Vacationers sat for an average of 29 minutes less, moved at least 5 minutes more, and gained 21 minutes of extra sleep. Positive changes occurred across all categories of vacations, even with breaks as short as one to three days, according to Ty Ferguson, first author of the study and a research associate at the University of South Australia, Adelaide.

In conclusion, taking a vacation is not just a desire, but a need rooted in science. Vacations aren’t frivolous, but rather, essential to our well-being. Taking even a few days off from work and work-related tasks is healthy, improves movement patterns, and exercises our sensory processing skills. So, why not take the time to pack a bag and enjoy a well-deserved break from your routine.

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Anna Roffey Lawyer, World Traveller, Blogger... 🧡