The importance of taking holidays can not be overstated. Research suggests that burnout can be largely prevented by taking regular holidays before they are needed. This concept of ‘preventative vacations’ extends to both short regular breaks as well as to longer, more planned holidays. So what are the health benefits of taking regular holidays and how many holidays do we actually need a year to realise these health benefits?
Health Benefits of Holidays
- Physical restoration – many a time we can find ourselves frazzled and worn out. By simply taking a short break it is amazing how much better we can feel. By creating the margin in our schedule to have a break, our bodies are afforded the space they need to recover and repair.
- Mental restoration – taking regular short breaks builds emotional resilience to cope with the inevitable oncoming pressures of life. Too often an insurmountable task or challenge seems to come into correct perspective when we take time away to rest and re-evaluate the situation.
- Exposure to Vitamin D – many of us in our everyday lives don’t find the time to go outdoors. This is posing a significant risk to our health in terms of vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is made when we are exposed to sunlight and is an important factor in ensuring strong bones. It is also thought to have other functions including in prevention of cancer, multiple sclerosis, and various other illnesses. Holidays give us an opportunity to catch up on our sunlight exposure and hence boost vitamin D stores.
- Increased Physical Activity – holidays often give us an opportunity to be more physically active. Whether it is trying a new sport like skiing or just having the time to ride our bikes with the kids. As we all realise, physical activity has enormous health benefits in many areas of physical and mental health.
- Laughter – often by taking a short break we find that are guards can come down and we are given the space to be ourselves again. This often means the return of joy and laughter into our lives. These two ingredients are imperative to ensure strong mental health. It is thought that ten ‘belly laughs’ per day are needed to realise the health benefits of laughter.
So how much time do you actually need away to ensure these health benefits? Surprisingly not long at all. I generally recommend a weekend away if possible every 8 weeks and 2 longer holidays of 10-14 days duration every 6 months. It takes forward planning and discipline to schedule holidays into our busy lives but the health benefits are well worth it.