Many people do not realize the importance of making time for themselves. While sacrificing and putting everyone else first, the stress stacks up and the overall health decreases. If you are trying to live a healthy lifestyle, vacationing can be just as important as eating well and exercising. Taking a vacation is good for your health and here is why:
When you are stressed, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. Increased levels of cortisol can cause your insulin levels to remain high, which causes your blood sugar to drop and your cravings for sugary, fatty foods to go up. It is a vicious cycle. So when you take a vacation and can take a break from the every day stresses of life, your body is able to repair itself from some of the damage done by the stress.
Stress has a major impact on heart disease and high blood pressure. There have been long term studies that show vacationing can truly reduce the risk of heart disease and heart attack. Men who took a regular vacation were more than 32% less likely to die from a heart attack while women who did the same were 50% likely to die from a heart attack. (2010 Framingham Heart Study)
Chronic stress can affect the part of the brain that causes memory problems and inhibits goal oriented activities. If you are constantly working and never taking time off for vacation, you will find yourself feeling blocked and distracted with memory problems. A recent survey shows that almost 75% of people who take a regular vacation feel energized and ready to tackle tasks.
Prevention of Illness
Psychoneuroimmunology is the study of the interaction between psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems of the human body. Researchers in this field have found that stress and its adrenal dysfunction can alter change your immune system, making you more susceptible to various illnesses. When stress levels are high, the chances of getting infections or serious conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease are much higher. Some research shows that long-term stress may be a contributing factor to cancer.
Have you ever heard the term “vacation sex”? It is actually a thing! High cortisol levels associated with stress can cause a negative feedback loop in your brain along with lower levels of the sex hormones such as testosterone. This can contribute to a loss of libido. Surveys show that people who take regular vacations feel sexier with a greater romance in their relationships.
Neuroscientists have found that chronic exposure to stress can alter your brain structure which can contribute to depression and anxiety.
Research shows that women who do not take regular vacations were three times more likely to be depressed and anxious. This corroborates a survey that found people who take regular vacations reported feeling extremely happy with an overall feeling of well-being compared to those who did not vacation. And many reported these effects lasting beyond their actual vacation.
Taking a vacation with family or loved ones can help strengthen relationships. During a vacation, memories are made and bonds are forged closer together. A recent study uncovers a correlation between children who achieve academically and their summer family vacations. The family bond that is made during a vacation is priceless while memories are created that will last a lifetime.
Believe it or not, studies show that employees who are given more vacation time actually increase company productivity while even decreasing the number of sick days taken off. Companies with generous vacation packages enable a healthy quality of life for their employees. This translates to a better quality of work. Employees also report feeling more creative after taking a vacation. More than 70% of them reported feeling satisfied with their job.
Another reason why taking a vacation is good for your health is for improved sleep quality. When on vacation, the average person gets approximately an hour more of sleep which can carry over to when they come home.
Most overweight individuals admit to overeating in response to stress. Studies show that indulging more than normal on vacation is ok and individuals can still lose weight because they are less stressed (normal cortisol production) with normal glucose levels.
Lastly, a vacation is good for your health because it keeps you young. Chronic stress can literally speed up the aging process and contribute to many health problems. From a health coach perspective, our recommendation is to make yourself a priority and take a regular vacation if at all possible to contribute to overall good health.