Why Not Taking a Vacation Is Harmful For Your Health

“We travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us.”

I just returned from an amazing two-week vacation to Norway where I reconnected with extensive family, toured some Nordic cities, climbed the highest mountain (in Norway and Northern Europe), zip-lined down an Olympic Ski Jump, and took part in the latest Norwegian trend: hot sauna, cold plunge and repeat.

Before I left, I was very stressed about the time away and all the things I wasn’t going to get done. Funny thing happened, the world didn’t fall apart and it was all there waiting when I got back.😉  The difference is now, I feel rested, reenergized, reinspired, and ready to go.

It turns out those feelings aren’t a coincidence. Research proves that vacation is critical to our health and well-being.

In fact, Europe mandates 20 days of paid vacation, (some countries have increased that to 30 days) Unfortunately, the US is known as the “no vacation nation”. Some employers offer an average of 10 paid days off, yet many people don't use them.  In 2018 (the last data available) American workers had 768 million unused vacation days and 55% of that paid time off was completely forfeited. Plus 24% of the workforce has never taken 2 weeks of vacation.

Here are 5 major reasons why vacation time is a MUST and not a SHOULD.

  • Reduces Stress and Increases Overall Well Being:  

On the Gallop Well Being Index, participants who took vacations scored a 68.4 vs a 51.4 for those who didn’t get away. There are also numerous studies that prove there is a strong link between travel and decreased heart disease, stroke, anxiety, and depression. And in a 9 year study of 12,000 men, they found that those who took annual vacations were less likely to die of any cause.

Additionally, employees that booked out were ultimately more productive, had fewer sick days and enjoyed greater work satisfaction throughout the year.

  • Improves Family Relationships:

In this never-ending busyness of modern life, we sometimes forget the things that truly matter -connecting with the people we love most.

This vacation, my whole family (10 of us) including my mom, sisters, niece, nephew & fiancé, husband and children headed across the Atlantic to connect with over 50 other extended relatives: 1st, 2nd, 3rd and I think even 4th cousins…if we did the math right. It was like a chess game keeping track of names and immediate descendants, but it was also magical. Sharing that time together and bonding with so many interesting, fun and kind relatives opened a door of beautiful connections and experiences that we will treasure forever.

  • Mindset Reset:

Since that is the title of my Moticise DVD, I clearly have an affinity for things that will shift your perspective and get your mindset back on track. Exercise is one of them and vacation is another.

 Dr, Richard Davidson is a premier scientist on mindfulness and meditation. He notes that when people travel there are lots of changes. …schedules, routines, people, experiences.  “That decreased familiarity is an opportunity for most people to be more fully present.” I have found that to be so true. Any time you go outside your comfort zone there is a heightened state of awareness. This awareness brings a greater appreciation for life, gratitude for people and experiences, and a more objective point of view.

  • Increased Creativity:  

When you are traveling or on vacation, you tend to move more, and we know that movement increases creativity.

However, Adam Galinsky of Columbia Business School took that one step further and found that there is also a link between travel and greater creativity. “Foreign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth and integrativeness of thought, the ability to make deep connections between disparate forms,” That’s a fancy way of saying if you are looking for some inspiration, take a trip!

  • Increased Happiness:

For a moment just close your eyes and imagine that you are going on your favorite vacation. Where are you? Who are you with? How does that feel?? I find myself smiling just thinking about it.

Studies show that just anticipating a trip makes people happier for up to 8 weeks ahead of going away. 

And doing some fun things once you get there will flood your brain and body with all those dopamine, serotonin and endorphin feel good chemicals. Good news is research also shows those happy feelings last for weeks after you return home.

I got to zipline down the Holmenkollen ski jump (see pic above) with my son, Ty….woo hoo. I can attest, one week later, I’m still enjoying the after effect of those endorphins!

You don’t have to fly halfway around the world to reap these rewards. Taking a staycation and doing something fun in your neighborhood can be equally beneficial.

The key is, we all need a break. It’s not lazy or even a luxury, it’s a necessity and it will have lasting benefits for your mind, body and soul for years to come!.



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