People who pride themselves on not taking their vacation days ruin it for the rest of us! Taking off for a week long or longer is not only good for your health, but it can improve your work too. Here are five reasons to claim those vacation days.
Chronic stress brought on by a large lingering event or an accumulation of small daily stresses can impact our decision-making skills. By breaking the everyday stress cycle, we strengthen these skills and end up making smarter choices for ourselves and those around us. As researchers from the <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21763760" target="_hplink">National Institutes of Health</a> have shown, under chronic stress our ability to think through goal-oriented decisions cease; instead, we make reactive automatic decisions.
At home our regular routine is always go, go, go. Most of us wait until the last possible minute of the day to put down our smart phones. <a href="http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1716/adults-cell-phones-text-messages" target="_hplink">Some people even sleep with them</a>, which can incite anxiety levels. Away from the office and our workaholic routines, it's easier to ignore our emails and leave our phones in the off position. Vacation day activities shake up our routine, allowing our bodies to ease into relaxation, and without having to set an alarm clock we're more likely to get the recommended full 7-8 hours of sleep. A week of proper sleep makes you feel like a new person.
Since 1948 the <a href="http://www.framinghamheartstudy.org/" target="_hplink">Framingham Heart Study</a> has been following generations of people and their lifestyle choices. Statistics from a 20-year study show that women who take at least two vacations a year are eight times less likely to have coronary disease. This doesn't mean that men should take a pass. According to the <em>New York Times</em>, men who fail to take a yearly vacation are <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/07/business/yourmoney/07shortcuts.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all" target="_hplink">32 percent more likely </a>to die of a heart attack than those to take advantage of their down time.
Spending 8-10 hours a day behind a desk staring at a computer or in stressful meetings makes the average person want to run home, sit on the couch and indulge in a pint of ice cream. These food intake patterns <a href="http://www.calmenergy.com/" target="_hplink">can wreak havoc on your metabolism</a> and feed your cravings for comfort foods. By breaking this vicious stress cycle and taking a vacation, you can help your body to self-regulate and slow down. This can lead to a more positive body image and greater self-awareness, which keeps you on track to consuming healthier foods.
Having something positive to look forward to helps reduce negativity in our daily lives. Whether you're headed to the beach or planning a staycation, your happiness quotient jumps every time you think about your future plans. Once on vacation the experience of pleasure makes for positive recounts upon your return. <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3226735/" target="_hplink">These savoring effects</a> that kick in upon your return can help reduce depression and put a positive spin on how you see your future.
Revamp wardrobe consultant Beth Berliner gives some clothes packing tips for a vacation.
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