The Mental Health Benefits of Holidays

Going on vacation can actually make you a healthier, happier person—and not just during your holiday.

There is plenty to gain from packing up and leaving work and home behind for a change of scenery in a foreign place. Spending some money on vacation is not a waste at all— studies show that the mental health benefits of traveling last long after the vacation has ended.

So, book your tickets and pack your bags, because these are the benefits you can gain from a get-away.

Traveling reduces stress and boosts happiness

It’s important to allow time during each year in which you don’t have to think about work, errands, bills, commitments, and other stressful things back at home.

Holidays allow you to physically remove yourself from it all, which makes it easier to mentally detach.  Even just a few days of being in a foreign place can have a stress-busting impact which can carry through to your daily life for weeks or months after the holiday has ended.

Vacations not only reduce stress, but they also boost happiness and satisfaction, starting from the day on which you make the arrangements. Once you book a ticket, you’ll have something to look forward to, which can keep your spirits up during those crappy work days.

Traveling enhances creativity

Traveling can make you more creative, and there’s a scientific explanation. Foreign experiences increase cognitive flexibility, which is the mind’s ability to jump between different ideas. New experiences also enhance depth and integrativeness of thought.

The reason for this is due to a concept called neuroplasticity, which is a term for the way in which the brain is wired. When we’re exposed to new experiences— sights, sounds, smells, languages, cultural differences—different synapses in the brain are sparked, waking up different parts of the mind.

So, tell your boss that it’s in her best interest for you to take a vacation, because you’ll return to work more creative and insightful than you left it.

Holidays improve physical health

Whether you’re hiking in the Alps or relaxing in Cancun, a holiday can seriously boost your physical health and return you to your day job in tip-top shape.

Firstly—whether you’re hiking or not—traveling requires a certain amount of physical exertion that you would miss out on otherwise. Running through airports, walking the streets of foreign cities, and exploring new places are bound to get your heart rate up.

Also, traveling is a serious stress-buster, which means that it can have a positive impact on your blood pressure. Lowering your blood pressure by reducing stress is a sure way to a healthier heart.

Another reason holidays can positively impact your physical health is because they give you time to catch up on sleep. People who are sleep deprived are more likely to be overweight, to experience early aging, and to suffer poor mental performance. Sleep deprivation also lowers your immune system, causing you to get sick more often.

Holidays strengthen bonds

Shared experiences strengthen relationships—so, what better way to reinforce a bond than to travel together?

Vacation allows you to leave stress behind and focus on spending quality time with one another. It also creates the perfect environment for talking things out in a calm and respectful way, because you’re not multitasking or short on time. You’re bound to have a lot more patience when you’re on vacation.

Holidays also help to strengthen the bond with those left back at home. When you take time out to focus on self-care with a much-needed vacation, you return home more equipped to help others and deal with any requests and demands that may come your way.

When you carve out time to focus on the things that are really important in life, you’ll find that you’re more focused and productive the rest of the year. Plan for one or two long vacations each year, and a few short vacations (we’re talking weekend getaways) throughout the year.

Bryson Telling is a writer for Alternative-Sailing, an online peer-to-peer yacht rental company where you can hire yachts in Quadeloupe, La Rochelle, Antilles, Bretagne, and other international locations.

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