15 Facts That Will Make You Realize How Important It Is To Take Vacations

Image via Flickr/ Chad Sparkes

You might have fooled yourself into thinking vacations are just a mental health thing, but they’re not. They have a profound impact on physical and emotional health, too; in fact, based on the studies listed below, it looks like vacations are essential for your overall health and wellbeing. So the next time you feel like you should skip the vacation and work yourself to death instead, just remember these 15 facts.

1. Vacations decrease depression.

The Wisconsin-based Marshfield Clinic conducted a study that found that “the odds of depression and tension were higher among women who took vacations only once in two years compared with women who took vacations twice or more per year.” In other words, take more time away from the stress and tension of everyday life and you’ll be much less likely to feel depressed.

2. They also decrease your risk of heart disease.

The Framingham Heart Study, known as the largest and longest-running study of cardiovascular disease, found that men who didn’t take a vacation for “several years” were 30 percent more likely to have heart attacks compared to men who took regular time off. Women weren’t immune, either; the study discovered that women who took a vacation once every six years or less were almost eight times more likely to develop coronary heart disease or have a heart attack compared to women who took a vacation at least twice a year.

3. Your productivity will improve.

Skipping a vacation might seem like it’s a surefire way to get more work done and cram in more productive hours, but it’s actually just burning you out. A 2010 study found that 35 percent of Americans are more productive after a vacation; by taking the time off to recharge your batteries, your brain will be well-rested and better able to tackle your workload.

4. You’ll be less stressed.

This one’s kind of obvious, but apparently, a lot of people still need to be forced to get off their stressed asses and take vacation. A study published in the “Journal of Occupational Health” stated that during a vacation, people feel healthier, more energetic, less tense and in a better mood.

5. You’ll be more creative and a better problem-solver if you take a vacation.

Allowing your mind to wander gives you perspective and helps your brain reset itself, leading to daydreaming and enhanced creativity, according to Daniel J. Levitin, director of the Laboratory for Music, Cognition and Expertise at McGill University. When you take the time to relax and not think about anything at all, you’ll often find that you stumble upon new ideas and great insight.

6. People who take more vacations are happier.

A 2010 study on Dutch vacationers discovered that people who are about to take a vacation are much happier than those who aren’t. It also found that post-trip happiness wears off relatively quickly; therefore, the author of the study suggested that people taking several short vacations a year will maximize their happiness the most, since they experience more pre-trip anticipation and more post-trip happiness.

7. You’ll live up to 20 percent longer.

A study from the State University of New York at Oswego found that of 12,000 men (ages 35 to 57) surveyed, the ones who go on vacation every year reduce their overall risk of death by 20 percent. Reduce your risk of death and go on vacation.

8. You’ll be happier with your marriage.

Women who take vacations are not only less stressed, depressed and tired; they’re also happier with their marriages, according to Marshfield Clinic. The same study mentioned in item one on this list found that “the odds of marital satisfaction decreased as the frequency of vacations decreased.” So take more vacations for a happier, healthier relationship.

9. People who take more vacations are more satisfied with life.

When researchers from the University of Pittsburgh’s Mind-Body Center interviewed 1,399 study participants about their vacations, they found that people who participated in more leisure activities “reported more life satisfaction [and] finding more meaning in life.” So not only will taking time off make you more satisfied, it will also make you feel more purposeful. Don’t be afraid to find the true meaning of life by relaxing on the beach!

10. Vacations make people closer to their families.

A survey conducted by Expedia found that 53 percent of respondents came back from vacation feeling closer to and more reconnected with their families. If you want to stop feeling like a mindless, unconnected drone, your yearnings for a vacation are totally justified.

11. Your good mood might be contagious.

The positive effects of taking time off aren’t just good for you; they could be good for your officemates, too. The more relaxed, more creative and happier you can influence your coworkers, spreading the good vibes of your vacation around the office.

12. Our current vacations are pathetic and only reinforce our crazily short modern attention spans.

The pro-vacation organization Take Back Your Time notes that 20 years ago, 80 percent of families visiting Yosemite stayed overnight. Today, the average visit lasts five hours.

13. It fans the flames of romance.

Nielsen poll from Diamond Resorts International found that 80 percent of people who take yearly vacations report that “romance is alive in their relationship.” Only 56 percent of people who never take a vacation said the same, leaving nearly half of them with romance that is apparently dead and depressing.

14. Taking vacations keeps you from losing the benefits you’re entitled to.

Most workers are given paid vacation days; when they don’t take them, they lose them. The Nielson poll also found that 52 percent of people surveyed didn’t take all of their paid vacation days last year. On average, they forfeited about seven paid days of vacation a year. That’s a full week — or one business week and two business days — that they could have spent on vacation while still being paid, but didn’t go.

15. Vacations make you happier with your job.

According to the same Nielson poll, 71 percent of people who take yearly vacations report feeling “satisfied to very satisfied with their job” compared to 46 percent of those who never take a vacation. You too could be among this privileged 71 percent! Just get out from behind that desk and go on vacation already.