How Taking a Vacation Can Save Your Life

By Mikalah • Health • 25 Apr 2014

Compared to the rest of the industrialized world, Americans receive far less paid vacation time. An even sadder fact? We don’t even use the time we get! A study by Expedia showed that over a third of workers who receive paid vacation days leave some unused each year, using an average of 12 days (compared to 30 used by French workers!) There’s something to be said for a strong work ethic, but many don’t realize that the rejuvenating effects of vacation aren’t just selfish- they can impact your health.

One of the most important effects of vacations is that they reduce stress. However, this perk isn’t just mental. Simply taking a couple of days to get away or golf or camp or whatever it is you love can reduce your blood pressure and level of stress hormones. The Framingham Heart Study even showed that skipping vacation for a few years can increase the risk of heart attack by as much as 30%. Stress affects your body negatively in many ways, and you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to work to reduce it.

It may seem like a no brainer, but people who take vacations are also proven to be a lot happier and satisfied in life. People who engage in leisure activities report fewer negative emotions, higher life satisfaction, and high support from a network of loved ones. Your attitude affects the way you work, relate with others, and succeed in life. You may think that burying your head in work is making you a better employee, but it’s possible that a couple of days off would do even better.

Even beyond this, recent studies have shown that people who “go on vacation” but remain tuned in to office happenings through phone or email are less likely to enjoy all of the benefits of a vacation. Do yourself a favor, and escape. Just a few days can make all the difference for your health, whether it’s a golf getaway to Cape Cod (like the lovely Chatham Gables Inn on Cape Cod), whatever floats your sailboat!

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