You Need A Vacation

Taking time away from your everyday routine boosts overall wellness

WRITTEN BY Jenny Peterson

We’re all familiar with the standard health advice: exercise regularly, eat a nutritious diet, avoid smoking. But did you know that stepping away from work for a reset should also be essential to your health routine?

Whether you call it a vacation, time off, a break or even a time out, finding a way to pause the stressors of daily life and recharge makes a positive impact on your overall wellness. The United States has been dubbed the “no vacation nation,” with about one in four American workers not receiving paid vacation or holidays, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research. But health experts and the World Health Organization agree that clocking out from daily responsibilities can lower the stress that leads to high blood pressure and heart disease.

“Chronic stress can contribute to mental and physical health disorders including depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, heart disease and even dementia,” says Dr. Margaret Sorrell, a Roper St. Francis Healthcare affiliated primary care doctor. “Taking a vacation has been proven to lower those stress levels and serve as a time to mend the damage caused by chronic stress.” In addition, extended time off can improve physical and mental health, boost your outlook on life and foster motivation and creativity in the workplace. “The positive effects of a vacation persist months later,” adds the doctor.

People of all ages benefit from a vacation or staycation, even retirees who don’t have a traditional job to step away from. “Take time to do things you wouldn’t normally do in your day-to-day life,” Dr. Sorrell says. “Scheduling a visit with family, taking a romantic getaway with your partner or going on a solo adventure in nature can have an immense impact on physical and mental well-being during all stages of life.”

Relax to the Max: To make the most of your time off…

  1. Don’t overschedule your vacation. Rather, see where each day takes you.
  2. Put yourself in a stress-free environment by focusing on good sleep, relaxation and activities that bring you joy.
  3. Completely unplug. If that’s not possible, limit work to an hour a day, then put away the computer when you’re done.
  4. Get outdoors. Sunlight and fresh air help regulate stress hormones.
  5. Begin planning another vacation as soon as you return. Setting a date for a future vacation has been shown to boost mood, increase happiness and decrease burnout.