I need a holiday

“I need a holiday” – no doubt we have all uttered these words, at one point or another.

 It can feel as though everything gets a little too much sometimes, and evidence suggests our mind, body, and quality of work improve significantly when we allow ourselves to “check out to check in”, and come back feeling revitalised and raring to go.

This is what 365 days without a vacation does to your health

If you live in the US, the odds are high that you haven’t taken a vacation this year (or last year, for that matter).

Before enduring another year without an official getaway, either because of work commitments or an otherwise hectic routine, consider the following: A growing body of literature across the fields of medicine, psychology, and management has confirmed what the body and mind already instinctively know. Working without a real break can take a serious toll on one’s mental and physical health. To put the importance of vacation in perspective, here’s a rundown of what happens when down time goes away:

The toll on your body

There’s a strong relationship between people who don’t vacay and the risk of heart disease. Data collected in 1991 from a renowned ongoing longitudinal project started in 1948, called the Framingham study, shows that female homemakers who took vacation once every six years or less had nearly twice the risk of developing heart attacks or having a fatal heart problem than those who took time off at least twice a year.

Men are affected, too. A 2012 review of 50 years of research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that a ten-hour-or-more workday increased the risk of coronary heart risk by 80%, in both sexes. The researchers reasoned that the correlation may be related in part to health problems associated with longer exposure to psychological stress.

The toll on your mind

Just as grueling work hours have been found to test our mental health, vacation is thought to promote it. In 2012, drawing on data from another large longterm project called Whitehall II, which collects information about British civil servants, researchers from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and elsewhere found that people who worked more than 11 hours a day (compared to those who worked 7-8 hours a day) were more than twice as likely to have a major depressive episode, even in those without previous mental health issues.

Men are affected, too. A 2012 review of 50 years of research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that a ten-hour-or-more workday increased the risk of coronary heart risk by 80%, in both sexes. The researchers reasoned that the correlation may be related in part to health problems associated with longer exposure to psychological stress.

By contrast, enduring relentless working hours has the opposite effect. A 2008 study from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health/Centre of Expertise for Work Organizations over roughly five years showed that people who work a 55-hour work week (as opposed to a 40-hour one) demonstrated lower cognitive function, including poor vocabulary and reasoning.

Some vacations do more than others. For instance, getaways that involve mastering new skills, like surfing or yoga, are especially helpful in reducing exhaustion in the days following your break. Likewise, a frustrating or conflict-ridden vacation can be a drain on energy and productivity.

For those determined to squeeze in more vacations, don’t be discouraged if the blissful feelings fade within days of your return. The short-term benefits may taper quickly, according to research from the University of Tampere in Finland, but the collective effect over time is vital. Says behavior scientist Jessica de Bloom: “It would be a bit like asking, ‘Why do we sleep despite the fact that we get tired again?'”

Published by Thu-Huong Ha on September 05, 2015 via quartz.com

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s