Summer Vacations Aren’t Luxury: You Need Them For Your Wellbeing
Are You Taking A Summer Vacation This Year?
Summer is officially half over. Have you taken your vacation yet?
Maybe you feel too stressed or overwhelmed with life to bother going on vacation… after all, it does take some planning (even if you use a travel agent, you still need to make the call).
If you’re not planning to take a summer vacation this year, you’re not alone. Radio International Canada reports that only one in three Canadians will take their vacation time this year.
That’s A LOT of unused vacation time!
(Too bad I couldn’t take some of their holidays… )
You know what’s also interesting? On average, Canadians get only two weeks of vacation time per year, whereas Europeans get an average of four to six weeks per year.
Yep, that’s right. A lot of us get only two weeks and we STILL don’t take our vacation.
What Happens When We Don’t Take Summer Vacation
Here’s the thing, we’re not meant to just work all the time and our wellbeing suffers when we don’t give ourselves time for leisure.
According to Katrina Onstad, author of The Weekend Effect,
“We know that our bodies suffer from overwork and lack of leisure: anxiety, mental-health issues –
we’re not designed to work more than about 40 hours a week.
Our systems wear out and the quality of the work suffers. After 50 hours, it crashes and burns.”
Well, we already know that we’re too busy, overwhelmed and stressed out…
But we’re still not taking our vacation time, so here are another five reasons why you should pack your bags, leave your work phone in the office, and unplug from work.
Get Better Sleep
Ever wonder why you sleep better on vacation?
According to Huffpost, there’s a lot of science to explain why you get better quality rest while on holiday:
- Sleeping in regulated air conditioned rooms as it’s easier to fall asleep in cooler temperatures
- Hotels often have thicker blinds/curtains to block out light, which helps you to produce the melatonin to sleep
- Less noise pollution like traffic, trains, sirens, noisy neighbours, etc., which can make for better sleep
Reduce Your Stress
This might seem like an obvious one but it’s still an important point.
Too much stress over long periods of time has harmful effects on our wellbeing.
For instance, one Canadian study done by the University of Calgary found that certain activities, such as going on vacation, were helpful in reducing stress for a group of 900 lawyers who had high-stress jobs.
Lower Your Risk Of Heart Disease
Here’s a sobering thought… did you know that in the next hour, twelve Canadians over the age of twenty will die from heart disease?
That’s a lot of people.
And no wonder, since it’s the second leading cause of deaths in Canada.
Unfortunately, our American friends don’t fair much better when it comes to heart disease.
So, chances are we all know someone who has passed away from this.
Extend Your Life (Honestly!)
I know this might sound a bit far fetched but hear me out…
There was an interesting study called the Helsinki Businessmen Study that showed that businessmen who took fewer than three weeks vacation per year were 37% more likely to have a shortened lifespan.
Yep! That’s what this study shows.
Taking good vacations can save your life. Literally.
One of the authors of the study, Professor Timo Strandberg from the University of Helsinki says,
“Don’t think having an otherwise healthy lifestyle will compensate for working too hard and not taking holidays. Vacations can be a good way to relieve stress.”
Photo Credit: Agustín Diaz
Increase Your Brain’s Neuroplasticity
This is a really fun one!
Just in case you didn’t already know, neuroplasticity refers to “changes in brain structure and organisation as we experience, learn, and adapt.”
In other words, your brain is either getting stronger or weaker.
And one way to make your brain stronger is to travel internationally and have new experiences. Results from this study showed that there’s a positive correlation between international travel (up to a certain extent) and creativity and work productivity.
So there you have it, five reasons why summer vacations are good for your wellbeing, in case you weren’t convinced already.
(But if you’re reading this on the beach or at your cottage, then hopefully this just makes you feel better about the vacation you’re already on!)
What does your favourite summer vacation look like? We’d love to hear from you! Share in the comments below.
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