Can you remember vacations that you've come back from feeling far healthier than before you left?
Scientific studies have backed up your feelings. They show that vacations can provide health benefits such as decreasing the risk of heart disease, depression, as well as increasing your productivity and having better relationships.
It also been shown that vacations are helpful regardless of where the vacation is or the duration, as long as it's away from where you spend the majority of your time and removed from your daily routines. In other words, a twenty-minute vacation to the coffee shop is good for your mental health! However, the further away you are from what is "normal" to you, the better it is for your mental health.
A study asked 12,338 men if they had taken a vacation within the last year, and the results found that there was an decreased risk of death and cardiovascular disease including Chronic Heart Disease. These decreased risks remained true even when baseline characteristics like income were taken into consideration. Missing one year's worth of vacation was associated with a higher risk of heart disease. The reason for this is that vacations encourage healthy activities such as snorkeling, hiking, and walking. What types of healthy activities do you do when you go on vacation?
Additionally, a separate study found that locations and length of stay were not relevant in improving your health. In a sample taken of 1,500 women in rural Wisconsin found that vacationing decreased tension, depression, tiredness, and increased satisfaction in their marriage after vacations. When you go on a vacation, you see other people in the best light away from day-to-day stresses. Naturally when people are less stressed out, they are more positive and that helps with building great relationships.
In Canada, a study of 887 lawyers found that taking a vacation, or participating in active activities like those done while on vacation were critical in decreasing depression, while participating in passive activities such as watching tv was not. From this research, we can conclude that, for example, watching videos about vacations does not decrease depression but taking vacations to these same places does decrease depression.
And as an additional benefit, if you're looking to change habits, a vacation is the best place to start this because the old cues you were used to are no longer present.
According to this article at Huffington Post, a Cincinatti Firm called Jancoa, was able to increase productivity drastically with the addition of a week of vacation, and another firm in Oregon was able to double profits since he increased vacation time at the office.
On a study of 265 family travelers, results found that family vacations contribute positively towards family bonding, solidarity, and communication.
By having the shared experience of a vacation and time spent together in an environment where everyone is relaxed, it provides those involved the opportunity to see one another in the best light. In the same vein as the above research, family vacations to places that are the most foreign are shown to be the most beneficial.
Whether you have 10 minutes, 3 days, or a few weeks - it's important for your health, productivity, and relationships to take a vacation to some place that's foreign to you.