Life can get crazy, messy, and stressful as heck from time to time. It can feel like too much for anybody. Actually, according to the CDC, 71 percent of US adults reported having a minimum of one symptom of stress (i.e. headaches and feelings of being overwhelmed or anxious) in 2016.
Therefore, it’s vital to make sure that we’re making time to get away from it all occasionally. Whether it’s an escape into nature, a relaxing spa weekend, exploring a different city, or a mere “stay-cation”; taking breaks to unwind and recoup is vital to our mental health.
Check out these five reasons why vacations are important for your mental health:
Taking a vacation can alleviate stress and depression.
Vacations help relieve symptoms of stress and depression by allowing us to escape from our daily stressors and regain focus on what’s important in our lives. According to the American Psychological Association, vacations can also reduce stress and depression by reducing cortisol levels (the “stress hormone”) in the blood. That’s right, even science agrees that “we need a vacation.” (*wink, wink*)
While vacations are undoubtedly good for our mental health and wellbeing, that doesn’t mean they are a cure-all for all of our life problems. Life can still become too much for anybody sometimes. There’s no shame in admitting when we need more than a mere getaway. Taking care of our mental health is a continual process. Luckily, with resources like WithTherapy, we can find a therapist that will fit our own personal schedules and our needs.
Getting away improves life satisfaction.
Not only can taking a vacation improve symptoms of anxiety and depression, but it can have positives effects for up to months after returning home and going back to work, according to the American Psychological Association’s Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse Newsletter from July of 2017.
This newsletter highlighted multiple studies that suggest the mental health benefits of vacations including life satisfaction, happiness, and decreased job stress. According to the newsletter, even a mere three-day “leisure trip” can have this effect on overall wellbeing. But it can be any length of time we can afford to take. It’s important to pick the perfect, peaceful vacation destination and make the time to relax.
Vacationing makes us more productive.
Let’s be honest about it—burnout is a real thing that only leads to more and more distractions from daily productivity. According to the Mayo Clinic, while burnout isn’t an official medical diagnosis, it is still a very real phenomenon that can cause serious issues including excessive stress, fatigue, insomnia, sadness, irritability, substance misuse, heart disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and vulnerability to illnesses.
While job burnout can sometimes be out of our control, the biggest issue seems to be in finding a proper work/life balance, which, in the long run actually makes us more productive once we return to work. Dr. Francine Lederer told ABC News in 2011: “The impact that taking a vacation has on one’s mental health is profound…Most people have a better life perspective and are more motivated to achieve their goals after a vacation, even if it is a 24-hour time-out.”
Taking time off challenges the way we think.
Exploring different locations can help us gain a whole new perspective not only on our own feelings, but they can also help us think differently about life. By being exposed to different ways of doing things, different cultures, and varying locations; we get to think differently and challenge our own way of living. It’s good for us to encourage ourselves to think differently and experience new, fun, and exciting things.
Vacations can strengthen our relationships.
Taking a vacation with anyone can build a stronger bond. However, this seems to be particularly true for couples in romantic relationships. According to the United States Travel Association, couples who take vacations together have better relationships than those who do not.
The survey was conducted in 2012 by Edge Research and found that couples who travel together have longer more satisfying relationships. The findings showed that two-thirds of those surveyed said that at least one “key aspect” of their relationships improved after traveling together and 65 percent of couples who were satisfied with their relationships believe that a vacation is a good way to “spark romance” (this group was also more likely to report having a good sex life).