4 Reasons to Pack Those Bags & Leave: Why Vacations Are Prolonging Your Life
A Dream to Travel
What's your paradise when you close your eyes and imagine it? Are you digging your toes into the warm white sand, staring out at the ocean, listening to the waves crash in front of you? Or do you imagine gripping a rope that suspends you 200 feet in the air, as you repel down the face of a waterfall? Everyone has their idea of a vacation, serenity...bliss. Even though all of us have our own ideas of relaxation, they all of have the same things in common. Besides giving us the warm and fuzzies, the effects traveling go much deeper than that.
Travel is a goal that most people strive to do (or hope to) on a regular basis. And for good reasons that are deeper than what we realize. There has been an increase in studies in the last decade that look into the health benefits of "getting the heck out of dodge." The following is a list of a few of the many benefits.
1. You'll live longer.
This isn't surprising if you think about it. By "recharging the batteries," you're actually disconnecting, resting, and re-energizing yourself to tackle tasks from a more emotionally balanced place. You get a break from the monotony or stresses of work (or that annoying guy in the other cubicle saying to you, "I do believe you have my stapler"). A Framingham Heart study showed that people who take annual vacations actually prolong the life of their ticker, by the lowering of stress, which leads to a lower risk of heart disease. The lowered stress relief not only contributes to a healthier heart but also a stronger immune system. In an interesting nine year study (by the National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute) following 12,000 men, results showed those that took more annual vacations were 21% less likely to die of any cause and 32% less likely to die from heart disease. If that in itself isn't a good reason to "leave on a jet plane and not know when I'll be back again (not really on the 'not knowing'...I'd get fired)," I don't know what is?!
2. You gain more depth.
People who take vacations out of the U.S. show to have a more robust sense of self, they are more creative, culturally aware, and open-minded. Traveling helps to overcome fears or social awkwardness, like that time you stared at your phone in uncomfortable silence, instead of talking to the person next to you in the tiny elevator. On a larger scale, a study was done by the Gainesville University of Florida, on the creativity of people who studied abroad, which showed to be eye-opening on the open-mindedness of those that spend time across seas. So, if you're looking for a breakthrough in your life, or inspiration it's potentially just a plane ride away.
3. You're more likely to get a raise.
Per a study was done by the U.S. Travel Associations Project: Time Off, those who took 11 or more vacation days in a year were 30% more like to get a raise or bonus. It goes against everything we've been taught with the good old adage "work harder to get farther," but realistically the break from work has shown to increase well-being and productivity in the workplace.
Alaska, Idaho, and New Hampshire are the top three States that use less of their vacation time than any other state. The top States that put their vacation time to good use are Arizona, Hawaii, and Maine.
4. It can improve your relationships.
As reported by Psychology Today, by breaking a chronic stress cycle you might be dealing with at work, you become more enjoyable to be around with mood improvement. When dealing with deadlines and constant stress, you can become sleep deprived and irritable. Simply put, unpleasant to deal with. Taking a vacation can break through that repetitive cycle and encourage you to tackle the world again with some vigor. Rather than looking at all your office supplies as weapons when Janet is droning on again about her cat that died seven years ago, you're more likely to be empathetic. It just makes us nicer.
In a study done in 2016, U.S. citizens didn't even use up to half of their allotted vacation time. This equalled to an incredible 658 million unused vacation days, which equated to $16.4 billion dollars. Interestingly enough this "perk" happens to be one of the most significant benefits to people who are job hunting.
On the flip side of all this, when these studies are referring to these vacations, they are talking about planned, well-thought-out vacations. Your vacation can have the opposite effect, if poorly planned and you're lost in the back alleyway in some foreign country with no guide...and no cell service.
So, the takeaway from all this? Don't overwork yourself. Take your guilt free vacation and recharge. We all need a little downtime to keep that sanity and to keep forging ahead. When the going gets tough...take a break.
© 2017 Nikki Poole