Dr. Deb’s Mental Health Vitamin: Why vacations are important
By Dr. Deb Wade
GCU Vice President, Counseling and Psychological Services
June is just around the corner! What does it conjure up in YOUR mind?
- The official beginning of summer?
- School is out?
- June weddings?
- Baseball, hot dogs and apple pie?
- Lazier days?
What about the notion of vacation? Are you contemplating, planning, preparing or anticipating a break from your routine this summer?
If so, are you one who structures every minute with sightseeing, shopping and exploring? Or are you one whose idea of “vacation” is to do nothing – no agenda, no expectation, no plan?
Regardless of where you are on that continuum – planning lots of activities or planning NO activities – just be sure that you take a vacation!
Why? Because taking time off has GOBS of benefits! Studies support the fact that taking vacation is good for your health – physically AND psychologically. Yes, your mental health will thank you … and this is WHY:
- Vacations reduce stress! When you allow yourself time for adventure, exploring new places, learning new skills and providing yourself with a chance to relax and unwind, the angst and stress from the daily grind at work will begin to magically slip right off your body! Pent-up tension, tight muscles, stuffed frustration or weariness will fall away and leave you refreshed and invigorated!
- Vacations help your heart stay healthy! That’s right! Taking an annual vacation also has been linked to a decrease in heart disease. Sometimes while on vacation it’s easy to fall into the thinking of “what I COULD be doing at the office.” If so, just remind yourself – my heart is happy when I allow myself this break in the action!
- Vacations improve your physical health! Vacationers most likely will have less pain, fewer physical complaints, improved energy, decreased blood pressure and improved cholesterol levels, according to many studies. In addition, taking a vacation away from the routine of work simply promotes a deeper satisfaction with life in general.
- Vacations help improve your relationships! Yes! The benefits of vacation extend beyond workers and the workplace. Connections can be deepened, bonds can be strengthened and relationships can be enhanced and improved! Family getaways allow opportunities for memory-making, for new experiences, for communication and togetherness, and for escape and relaxation! When you feel less tense, depressed, tired and frazzled, your relationships will get fed, nurtured and energized – what a bonus!
- Vacations provide opportunities for digital detox! Study after study shows that setting firm boundaries with your cellphone, laptop, tablet, TV and gaming systems actually lets your brain rest and your energy rebound! Set all that aside and invest in the memories that you are making while on vacation! You have before you REAL people, REAL excitement, REAL adventure … no need to read about others’ experiences because you’re making your own! What a double delight – fostering excitement and enjoyment with those you love while on vacation AND allowing your brain to have a reprieve from the digital world! Another bonus!
Yes, it is that time of year again! So be energized by the mere planning of your vacation, then pack your bags, grab your loved ones and sprint to the car – you’re on your way to making a lifetime of memories! Safe travels!