People say that laughter is an instant vacation, but that’s a load of malarkey. The truth is, vacation is way better for us than a good chuckle, and jet-setting should never be minimized by being compared to something like giggling. Seriously, science shows us that taking a break from work and heading off on a dopamine-inducing respite is invaluable to our health. The mental revitalization that we feel as a result of taking a trip has been documented time and again. Plus, overworking can literally kill you before it’s your time to go. The benefits of travel combined with the danger of overworking mean that every employee needs to take advantage of their vacation days.
Overwork, Death, and Suicide
Have you ever heard the term karoshi? How about karojisatsu? Unless you live in Japan, chances are you haven’t. Even though they are Japanese terms, their meanings and implications should be known worldwide.
The British Medical Journals provide their own explanation for these terms. Karoshi is ‘sudden death due to overwork’. It is often the result of health problems linked to the Japanese’s notorious ‘worker bee’-like approach to their jobs. Consistently long hours and an approach to work that borders on inhumane can result in fatal cases of heart disease and cerebral hemorrhages.
As if karoshi wasn’t dark enough for you, karojisatsu is the term used when somebody commits suicide as a result of work-related stress. The point is, overworking can and does kill people, to the point where the Japanese have made terms for work’s lethal consequences.
Now that we have established the seriousness of health threats that long hours and workaholism pose, we can examine the flipside of the coin; the mental and physical health benefits that come from time off of work, particularly time spent on vacation.
Time Off, Vacation, and Relaxation
As we sit in a beach chair, toes in the sand, ice cold drink in hand, we know that we are relaxing. What most of us don’t know is just how important this relaxation is to our short and long-term mental health. To gauge that, we look to science.
Admittedly, the mental perks of vacation evaporate fairly quickly upon heading back to work, primarily because work, regardless of occupation, is stressful. One can only daydream about their recent vacation for so long before realizing they are, in fact, back in the same misery-inducing cubicle they were able to temporarily escape from.
Still, the mental boosts before and during vacation are significant, and as humans we have to learn to soak up happiness whenever and wherever we can find it. One study published in the International Journal of Work, Health & Organisations found that ‘participants’ health and well-being improved during vacation on five indicators: health status, mood, tension, energy level and satisfaction.’
That’s a big deal. Few activities are able to provide wellbeing boosts in so many different areas, but vacation does. The Journal of Travel and Medicine mostly backs up these findings. Its study showed that free time, the warmth of sunnier vacation destinations, better sleep, meeting new acquaintances, and exercise while on vacation all aided in vacationers’ ability to recuperate. Notably, these effects were even greater in that participants said they were experiencing strain at work before taking a vacation.
Picking the Perfect Destination
Be honest, you know what you like. Whether you prefer snow skiing to waterskiing, or a warm fire place amidst a winter wonderland to a cabana on a warm beach, you should channel your inner desires when choosing a destination. This will help you maximize the mental and physical perks of the trip.
Sites such as Jauntaroo will help you figure out which destination fits your general wants, and sites like The Travel Hack can also help you narrow down destinations if you don’t already have your oasis in mind. Trust that you will find the location of your dream that falls within your budget. And you will reach peak relaxation before and during your vacation. If you believe it, you can achieve it.
In the interest of reducing your stress as much as possible while you’re away, don’t forget your due diligence before you leave the house. Give yourself plenty of time to do a walkthrough so you can lock all doors and windows, unplug electronics, make sure none of the toilets are running, and check for any other potential issues. Set your alarm, turn off lights that aren’t set on timers, and do put outside lights on timers so that your home does not become a burglar’s dream. Tell your most trusted neighbors that you will be gone and ensure that they have your phone number in case of major emergencies. The brain likes to panic when it should be relaxing, so the fewer worst case home scenarios it can spring on you while you’re away, the better. Remember: your neighbor can alert you the moment there’s a problem, so don’t worry until you have to.
Vacation is the bomb, there’s no two ways about it. Overworking, on the other hand, can turn your heart into a time bomb. The data is abundant, and the results are clear: vacation is a stress-reliever that we all could use. Spend a little dough to find that perfect travel spot. Your mind and body will be better for it.
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