You may think you’re being responsible by putting off your vacation, choosing instead to spend more hours at the office. But in reality, not taking a break to relax and recharge is actually like playing Russian roulette with your health. Multiple studies have found that taking vacations annually provides substantial health benefits.
One study conducted in the UK called “The Holiday Health Experiment” involved sending six participants on a two-week beach vacation while six others were left to go to work as usual. They assessed all the participants’ health before the start of the experiment, monitoring their heart, sleep patterns, and stress resiliency. They then monitored those same things over three days while the participants were either at work or on vacation, and again after the beach-goers returned.
Results showed that the vacationers’ blood pressure dropped six percent and their sleep improved by 17 percent. Those who stayed at work saw their blood pressure rise by two percent and their sleep worsen by 14 percent. Not surprisingly, the vacationers also reported feeling much happier and less stressed. So, overall, their health was improved by going on vacation.
Another study by the State University of New York looked specifically at the effects of regularly taking vacation on middle-aged men at high risk for coronary heart disease. When comparing the mortality rates over a nine year period to the frequency at which the men took vacations, they found that the more vacations a participant took, the lower his mortality risk, either by heart disease or any other cause. Other studies have found similar results for women, showing them to be much more likely to develop heart disease or experience a heart attack the fewer vacations they took.
Unfortunately, not only do Americans receive much less vacation time than residents of every other industrialized nation, we’re also less likely to use our vacation days. With most Americans having about 14 allotted vacation days, most of us only use 12 of them, and 25 percent take no time off at all.
So, rather than skipping vacation to prove your commitment to your job, take some well-deserved time off and prove your commitment to yourself and your health.
Do you take an annual vacation? Why or why not? Tell us below.
Sources: yahoo.com, nih.gov, and cnn.com