“A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in.” Robert Orben
The holy grail for people these days seems to be to enjoy their work and everyday life so much that they never need a vacation. That is not something I aspire to!
Even though my life is pretty darn good, living in I do in Noosa, one of Australia’s most famous beach resorts, working from home and writing web copy, business articles and travel stories, I still need vacations. Vacations aren’t something I ever want to give up or stop taking.
But some people don’t get my constant craving for vacations, travel and adventure. “Why can’t you just be happy here?” they ask. “Why do you need a vacation? You go to the beach everyday already.”
It’s hard to explain my urge to travel more to people who don’t feel it so usually I just shrug and say “because I do.”
This post explains it in detail and shows why people who don’t need vacations should consider taking one anyway. Because we all need vacations. We really do.
Why We all Need Vacations
1. You’re too busy to take a vacation
According to research by Oxford Economics nearly 40 percent of US employees feel like they have too much work to take a vacation. Which reminds me of this Zen proverb:
“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes a day, unless you are too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.”
In other words if you think you’re too busy for a vacation there’s all the more reason that you need one.
2. Planning your vacation will make you happier immediately
Studies show that having something to look forward to makes us happier. In The Happiness Project Review we explored how working towards a goal, or in this case a vacation, will make you happier. Sometimes it will make you even happier than achieving that goal.
Planning and looking forward to your vacation will bring you as much pleasure as the vacation itself. So the sooner you start planning your next vacation the better.
One study in vacations showed that the largest boost in happiness around vacations comes from the simple act of planning a vacation and that vacation anticipation boosted happiness for eight weeks.
Based on this research and my own personal experience we’re better off having several short vacations or micro-adventures throughout the year than one long vacation.
To draw out the joy of vacation anticipation you can also spend more time increase the anticipation effect by planning your vacation time in more detail, talking about it more or researching it more, for example by learning the language, finding out about local foods or great places to eat.”
3. Taking a vacation will make you happier and less stressed
Many people think of vacations as enforced time off work but studies show vacations serve to make you feel happier and less stressed.
Just make sure that your vacation experience is relaxing, you stay healthy and you spend time with people who you get on with. Getting sick or arguing with travel companions will not make you feel happier or less stressed.
4. Challenge and novelty improve our mental flexibility
We get stimulated by doing new things, meeting new people and eating new foods. It stops us from getting bored and actually creates new connections in our brain.
Doing new things invigorates us and is the antidote to the feeling of stagnation that can set in when you do the same thing week in, week out.
5. Vacations make you more productive
“Isn’t it amazing how much stuff we get done the day before vacation?”
I always get more done in the two weeks before a vacation and again when I get back. Before a vacation I’m motivated to get jobs finished and clear my plate so I can enjoy the vacation. Then after I get back I’m more focused on important tasks and better able to ignore distractions.
It’s not just me either. In the Oxford Economics report productivity is proven to increase before and after vacations.
6. Vacations make you more creative
You’ve probably noticed how ideas often come up when you stop trying frantically to solve problems and start doing nothing much. Some people get their best ideas in the shower, others while washing up and others by walking.
Vacations give us an extended period of time to do nothing which allows more time and space for creativity as documented in a New York Times article.
7. Vacations improve your health
Vacations are proven to benefit your physical health and mental wellbeing. So much so that a mortality report shows that men who don’t take vacations are 30 percent more likely to have heart attack and women who rarely vacation are 50 percent more likely to have a heart attack. Women are also much more likely to suffer from depression if they don’t take vacations.
8. Remembering positive memories makes us happier
If you really took time to stop all work, stay away from work emails and relax during your holiday then you’re bound to create some fun memories during your vacation.
Remembering positive memories makes us feel happier and it’s good to have a stock of positive memories to draw on during hard times.
So if you miss out on a vacation you’ll only be robbing yourself of the happiness of planning and remembering your vacation, not to mention a few relaxing days spent doing nothing.
Do you feel like you need vacations too? Even if your daily life is pretty good already…
While you leave a comment below have a listen to Rebecca Lynn Howard singing I Need a Vacation From My Life. I know how she feels and now I also know that needing a vacation doesn’t have to be a bad thing!
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