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The Truth About Vacations

Are you wondering if you have time to take a vacation this year? A survey conducted by Glassdoor and Harris Interactive found that only 25 percent of Americans who receive paid vacation time will take it. We often feel like we can’t due to professional obligations. The real question is: are you putting your health at risk when you don’t take time off?

There are proven health benefits to giving yourself a little downtime.

Lowers Your Risk of Heart Disease

There are multiple studies that say taking regular breaks from a stressful life can lower your risk of heart disease. For example, the Framingham Heart Study, the largest and longest running study on the subject of cardiovascular disease, found that men who failed to take a vacation for years at a time were 30 percent more likely to have a heart attack. Women who didn’t take vacation time at least once every six years were eight times more likely to develop heart disease.

Lowers Your Risk of Depression

What happens according to the old adage “all work and no play” is actually true, based on a study conducted by Marshfield Clinic. Scientists looked at 1,500 women living in rural Wisconsin to find out how their work schedules affected their mental health. Researchers found the women who vacationed less than once every two years were more likely to suffer from depression. Getting away helps stabilize your mood, so you can avoid negative thoughts or feelings of helplessness.

Lowers Stress Levels

Up to 90 percent of all trips to the doctor are stress-related. Stress can also encourage unhealthy habits like drinking, smoking and gambling. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration states that ongoing stress is a work hazard that costs this country’s industries 300 billion dollars annually.

Giving yourself a break from your normal routine lowers stress levels naturally. How? You are physically removing yourself from the source of your stress. Taking that time off recharges your internal battery and helps you think clearer, too, so you are better able to handle daily stress. Less stress in your life has a positive effect on your long term outlook and improves your ability to bond with the people in your life.

Tricks to Get the Most Out of Your Downtime

Even if a long vacation isn’t in the cards for this year, a “mini break” will help! Planning a series of day trips will allow you to reap many of the same health benefits as two weeks away from home. When you do get a chance to take a break, unplug from your work life completely and focus on relaxing and improving your family bonds.

Take the time to enjoy planning your next vacation for an added bonus. WebMD reports that the positive effects of just knowing you are getting a break start about eight weeks before your vacation! Once you get back home, start thinking about the next vacation right away to keep the excitement alive.

There are no benefits to overworking your body and mind, but plenty if you just take a break now and then.