How Vacation Deprivation Affects Your Health
by Jessie S.
Vacation Deprivation is a term that describes the physical, mental and/or emotional condition resulting from not taking enough vacation. Vacation Deprivation affects roughly 58% of workers according to recent polling. In fact, the average American lets four paid (4) vacation days go to waste every year! (Learn more about Vacation Deprivation). You may be thinking that it isn’t a big deal and that you’ll probably do the same... but why do we do this? Polls show that vacation time is the second most appealing job benefit offered by potential employers (second to healthcare) and yet we don’t even use the paid time off we are given. Unfortunately, not taking advantage of vacation comes with a larger consequence than just missing out on an employee benefit. Vacation Deprivation actually has negative impacts on your overall well-being. Here are a few ways that Vacation Deprivation affects your health:
Link Between Mental and Physical Health
Most of us understand that taking steps to improve our physical health is imperative but we’re often quick to overlook the importance of mental health and emotional health. However, the World Health Organization estimates that over 350 million people are affected by depression, even citing it as a global crisis. But it isn’t just mental health on the line – depression is actually linked to being the cause of certain physical health conditions. In fact, WHO predicts depression will become the top contributor to disease by 2030.
According to Psychology Today, stress not only effects a person’s mood but disrupts a person’s normal routine, sleeping habits, healthy coping strategies, and relationships, all which can lead to depression. When it comes to our behavior, stress and its effects also shape health practices potentially leading to unhealthy eating habits and substance abuse.
Vacation Reduces Stress and Fights Depression
The predicted number of those suffering from depression is alarming but luckily, there are steps we can take to reduce our risks of depression and one of those is taking a vacation. Americans generally understand that vacation is important for reducing stress. In fact, 91% of Americans believe taking a vacation will help to alleviate stress and anxiety. Other surveys showed that Americans felt they were generally more patient at work and had more energy upon returning from vacation meaning the positive effects of vacation last even when the vacation is over.
A recent study published in the Wisconsin Medical Journal conducted by the Rural Women’s Health Study examined the link between depression in women and their vacation frequency. The study showed that women who take vacations frequently are less likely to become tense, depressed or tired. Another study on the link between vacation days and stress concluded that for every ten additional days of paid vacation leave, the odds of depression in women was 29% lower. So how exactly does taking vacation cause all of these rejuvenating feelings?
It's actually quite simple. The American Psychological Association explains that vacations reduce stress because taking a vacation removes people from activities, situations and environments that cause feelings of stress or anxiety. Whether you just take a long weekend or go away for a multi-week trip, the act of simply getting away is a proven stress-reducer, especially when proper planning has gone into having a back-up plan at work (so you aren't glued to your phone or email the whole time) and into the vacation itself.
Vacation Reduces Risk of Certain Health Conditions
Several studies have shown that taking vacation can improve physical health by reducing your risk of certain health conditions. The State University of New York at Oswego conducted a nine-year study that resulted in some pretty convincing findings – vacationing every year reduced overall risk of death by 20% and the risk of death from heart disease by up to 30%! The Framingham Heart Study of Massachusetts conducted similar research on the link between cardiovascular health in men and women and taking vacation. This study revealed that men who didn’t take a vacation for a period of several years were 30% more likely to have a heart attack. The same study found that women who only took one vacation in 6 years were almost 8x more likely to have coronary heart complications or suffer a heart attack than those who took vacations at least twice a year.
Since vacation also reduces stress, it's important to understand how reducing stress is key in maintaining good physical health. Research has shown that stress is linked with the inability of the body to regulate inflammation which can promote both the development and progression of disease. This means stress is bad for your body because inflammation plays a role in cardiovascular diseases, asthma and autoimmune disorders.
The Cleveland Heart Lab explains that aside from the stress reduction benefits, “vacations promote health by giving you a chance to start good habits like a regular exercise routine and to pay back your sleep debt, lowering the risk for heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.” Going on vacation can even lower blood pressure.
Vacation Improves Your Mood
Who wants to be in a bad mood all the time? Along with the many health benefits and happy memories created by vacation, vacation is great for improving our general mood overall. Research shows that spending money on experiences (including vacations and vacation activities like concerts and restaurant meals) gives us more joy and happiness than material purchases. Additionally, many people begin to feel burnout from working long hours and even get tired of the same daily routine. Vacation not only breaks up this routine but gives people a chance to explore new places, try new activities, or even enjoy their favorite hobbies that often take the back burner to daily activities like work or school and cooking and cleaning.
Outer Banks Vacations Are The Best Vacations
Most of us understand that vacation is a good thing but sometimes it takes a few alarming statistics to remind us that we need to proactively make ourselves step away from time to time for our own wellbeing. If you’ve realized that it’s definitely time to plan a vacation of your own, consider a visit to the Outer Banks. The Outer Banks offers a little something for everyone – from the foodie and the history buff to the adventurer and nature lover -- but it's more than just a fun place to visit.
We might sound a bit biased but before you start planning a trip to the mountains or a big city, keep in mind that science suggests that beach vacations are actually good for you. Several studies have shown that being near Blue Space has several health benefits. Blue Space refers to a landscape beside water making the ocean the ultimate Blue Space. Why not get the most out of your vacation by maximizing your physical and mental health benefits at somewhere scientifically proven to help you relax? It’s about time to cure your vacation deprivation so request some time off, pack your bags, and click the button below to find your perfect vacation rental!
Jessie has been coming to the Outer Banks since she was just 5 years old. She loved it here so much that she finally relocated in 2018. Now her mission is to show the world that the Outer Banks is an incredible place that everyone should experience. When she isn't working, you can find Jessie hanging out with her friends, chilling at home with her awesome cat, Yoji, or discovering a new Outer Banks adventure.