03/31/2014 Mind-Body Health
Taking annual vacations is really good for you. Ask your doctor: it appears that going on vacation may not be an icing-on-the-cake type of indulgence—it may actually be necessary for good health.
But multi-week, exotic getaways aren’t always an option with the many responsibilities in our lives. Whether you have the time and money to head out on a European tour, or can simply afford a long weekend that’s close to home, yet away from the grind, planning a break is a great tool for reducing stress … and it gives us something to look forward to.
Why You Should Vacation
It is well known that stress is a risk factor for many diseases. Experts think that vacations may protect health by reducing stress. If your doctor’s order isn’t good enough, here is some research that uncovered why vacations are good for your health.
In a powerful study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine, researchers Karen Matthews and Brooks Gump studied a group of men who were at high risk for heart disease, finding that the men who took regular, annual vacations had a lower risk of death during the study period than did those men who passed on their time off.
Taking annual vacations was associated with a 30 percent reduction in cardiovascular risk. That’s certainly something to ponder poolside.
Matthews and Gump note that much more research is needed to find the exact mechanisms behind the phenomenon, but common sense does point to some big clues that vacations are simply good for your health.
Getaway Planning Tips
Getting away from it all doesn’t have to mean planning a big trip to the Mediterranean, or even a three-day weekend out of town. Spending quality time with family and friends, taking time to exercise and pursue enjoyable hobbies, and simply catching up on much-needed sleep are some activities you can incorporate into a simple staycation.
What does R & R mean to you? Answer that question, and browse the ideas below to plan your chunk of time off.
- Big Trip: Haven’t taken a big trip in a while? You may be due. Call a travel agent and talk about all of those places you’ve always dreamed about.
- Weekend Getaway: Grab the girlfriends or your significant other and plan a weekend away. Try to decide on a theme for your weekend, whether it be yoga, a spa weekend, hiking, camping, or food or wine tasting.
- Staycation: You don’t always need the bells and whistles that come with going out of town. Sometimes a little down time and break from the routine is all you need. Not to mention, planning a getaway can sometimes be time-consuming. Keep it simple and stay home, spending time with those you love, doing the things you love.
There are many ways to incorporate downtime into your life—from long vacations, to brief meditations. Start planning yours to keep your heart—and spirit—happy and strong. Doctor’s orders.
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