Vacation and Your Mental Health

vacation, your mental health

Vacation. This is a word that holds so much promise. This is a thing that we talk about and dream about. Yet, many people do not take it. Americans are terrified to take time off for vacation. A survey by the U.S. Travel Association found that four out of 10 Americans will not take all of their vacation days. Why is this? For the most part, people dread the pile of work that will await them when they return.

Why does this matter? Vacations help to alleviate stress. We all experience stress in our work environments. We may face the burden of tight deadlines, make critical decisions, or manage the complexities of an ever-changing family schedule. If stress is not properly managed, it can turn into chronic stress.

When someone is under chronic stress, it begins to take a toll on his or her physical and mental health.

It can affect a body’s ability to resist infection and maintain vital function. It also increases the risk of developing health problems including obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Chronic stress is also directly linked to our mental health. Studies show a correlation between stress and the development of mood disorders. You become more irritable, depressed and anxious.

Taking a vacation has the ability to break the cycle of chronic stress.

The benefits of a vacation begin the moment a vacation is planned. This gives us something to look forward to, which in turn, directly affects our mood. Once we actually take the vacation, we come back feeling ready to take on the world again. We gain perspective and come back rejuvenated. An overall sense of calm relieves stress, which allows our mind and body to heal and have the ability to affectively handle stress in the future.

Vacation, of course, benefits us in many other ways. Physically, stress takes a major toll on our bodies. The New York Times reported that taking a vacation every two years compared to every six will lessen the risk of coronary heart disease or heart attacks. Vacations can also help to improve our family relationships. Vacations help to create lasting memories that promote positive ties and long-term bonds.

For all of these reasons and more, take a vacation everyone! Vacation days are given for purpose, so use them. Work, chores, and all other necessities of life will be there when you get home.

Written by: Amanda Barnes