Should I Go On Vacation? 4 Amazing Mental Health Benefits of Vacations

If you’re not big on traveling or taking time off from work, you may be wondering why do you need a vacation? You may enjoy the routines you’ve created and the comfort found in a familiar setting rather than the dissonance that can come with a trip that takes you out of your comfort zone. 

But here’s a little secret you may not know.

Taking a vacation can actually improve your mental and physical health. It can also help you increase your productivity at work and improve your mood!

The many health benefits of utilizing your vacation time are innumerable. But, we’ll break down for you exactly why vacations are so important and why you should definitely consider a trip in your near, and distant, future!

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What the Travel Industry Looks Like Right Now

After a long and quite painful couple of years for the travel industry—ones that saw airports become all but deserted and travel grind to a halt around the world—things are finally starting to look up again. 

(Literally. We’ve seen so many more airplanes flying overhead in the past few months than we did during the entirety of 2020 post-March.)

But there’s a reason for that! Countries are easing border restrictions, and airlines are once again servicing flights to some of their most popular destinations in the Caribbean, Europe, and more. 

If you’re curious about some of the best vacation destinations you can fly to right now, check out our recommendations for the Best Flight Destinations During COVID.

In the States, popular attractions like Walt Disney World and national parks like Yellowstone are open and have strict procedures in place to protect their guests’ and employees’ health and safety. 

Additionally, to encourage travel and help reinvigorate tourism, many countries and businesses are offering discounts and perks to travelers, making it the perfect time to vacation and take advantage of benefits currently on offer:

  • Cheaper flights
  • Markdowns on accommodations and hotel stays
  • Discounts at restaurants and local attractions

So, whether you’re looking to take a cross-country road trip or fly out to someplace across the sea, you’ll find the majority of places ready to accommodate your needs and make sure you can get to where you’re going safely.

Why Vacations Are So Important

When you take a vacation, you grant yourself the time to de-plug from work, relax, and live in the moment without worrying about the numerous responsibilities piled up at home. They’re also a great way to celebrate important milestones and spend time with family and friends in a new and unique setting.

Recently, we heard from a member about an international travel deal we sent her to St. Martin that she jumped on booking to celebrate her and her husband’s honeymoon. Another customer used one of our low-fare deals to book three tickets for her and her friends to spend Spring Break in Belize City.

These trips don’t just signify a break from work or school but a chance to connect with loved ones and create memories you’ll remember fondly for years to come.

The Heart Health Benefits of Taking a Vacation

The benefits of trips like these go beyond just the cultural experiences they bring and the relationship bonds they can strengthen. Vacations also have a profound effect on physical health.

Research has shown that taking the time to vacation can reduce the risk of mortality in men with a high risk of coronary heart disease, both for CBD-related death and all-cause mortality. 

Another study found that individuals who vacationed more frequently were less likely to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, a group of health problems that increase the risk of things like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. On top of that, they discovered that with every additional vacation, the risk for metabolic syndrome decreased even further. 

Who would have thought professional medical advice would say to take a vacation for your heart?

We’d say that’s a pretty good argument for why vacations are so important.

Why You Need a Vacation Right Now

You might still be asking yourself an important question. Why do you need a vacation right now, this minute, this month, this year?

According to the U.S. Travel Association, even back in 2018, before the pandemic, more than half of the US workforce wasn’t using up paid time off (PTO). Americans left over 750 million vacation days unused


Is it just us, or did that number hurt to read?

Jump forward to 2020, and the pandemic canceled many vacations and halted trip planning indefinitely.

Between the stresses of dealing with changes at work and changes in work status, 2020 was a challenging year with few breaks from the things making life difficult. It left the majority of us in a strange limbo, separated from those closest to us and unable to escape from the stresses of the “new normal” we found ourselves living through, quarantined and socially isolated.

Several studies performed over the past year highlight the effects of 2020 on individuals’ mental health. For example, one study from June 2020 found that symptoms of anxiety disorder had more than tripled since the same period in 2019. In addition, it found that symptoms of depressive order had grown to four times that of the previous year. 

A more recent study conducted by the CDC from August 2020 to February 2021 shows that these effects are only growing, with the percentage of adults showing symptoms of a depressive or anxiety disorder increasing from approximately 36% to 41%.

Now more than ever, we need to be taking the time to connect with family and friends and disconnect from our daily stresses. 

In doing so, we can profoundly and positively impact our mental health!

4 Reasons That a Vacation Can Reset Your Mental Health

Simply deciding to plan your next vacation can immediately get you on the road to better overall mental health. Now, in 2022 more than ever, it’s crucial we take care of our well-being, so we can enjoy the benefits for years to come.

1. Reduces Stress

Work stress. School stress. Family stress. Pandemic-related stress … Uh, we think you get the idea. 

Many things in life can lead to stress. Even attempting to address the constant stream of tasks we’re forced to handle can cause added stress.

Ahh, the joys of being an adult.

Thankfully, there are a lot of ways to deal with and lower stress, and taking a vacation is one of them! 

Going on vacation removes you from the environment and activities that your brain associates with anxiety and stress—work, school, etc.—and helps remove you from the chronic stresses found in your daily life. 

Taking the time to schedule a few vacations throughout the year can save you from burnout and help buffer against future stresses at work. Now that’s something to get behind! 

On top of the benefits of actually being on vacation, the positive anticipation that can come from simply looking forward to a future trip is also beneficial in dealing with stress. It helps prompt positive emotions both during and after stressful situations. 

Look at that. You’re not even on vacation yet, and you’re already reaping the benefits several weeks before you’re even flying out!

2. Enhances Mood

We’ve all been there before. Stuck in a rut and unable to break free. 

Work has you wiped, family expectations snap at your heels, and your friends don’t have time for you or vice versa. It all wears on your mood and can leave you feeling like you have a dark rain cloud hanging over your head.

Watching a favorite show or reading a good book gives some pleasure and relief in the moment, but not enough to truly affect your mood for longer periods. Turn the TV off or close that book, and you’re back to feeling more of the same.

That’s because passive leisure, watching TV or reading, is ineffective at addressing depressive symptoms. In contrast, active leisure, something like taking a vacation, works wonders in reducing depressive symptoms and improving your overall mood.

Taking a vacation often means traveling somewhere new or precious, removing you from the dull routine of your daily life and pushing you to make plans, have new experiences, meet new people, and play an active role in your own life. 

And remember that positive anticipation we talked about earlier? It doesn’t just help buffer against stress but can also help us feel happier when we’re excitedly looking forward to something like a future vacation. 

3. Increases Brain Function: Productivity and Cognition

You’ve probably heard of people referring to the “grind” before and swearing by the idea that people who constantly work are the only ones who get anywhere or get anything done. They’re blessed with all the productivity and all the best creative ideas.

But what if we told you that frequently, the opposite is true?

You may find yourself hard-pressed to believe us. After all, more work = greater success intuitively makes more sense.

But a study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group found that individuals required to take breaks and have uninterrupted vacation time were more productive than those who continued working. 

Your brain is just like any other muscle in your body. It needs time to rest and essentially “turn off” to continue functioning at a high level. And just like an overworked muscle, only if you give your brain more time to rehabilitate and get back to 100% working order can you expect improved productivity and more creative thinking.

Consequently, taking a little time to go on vacation—and, more importantly, relax—can markedly impact your cognitive function. Additionally, it can improve your ability to focus and pay attention once you return, playing a significant role in your job performance.

So, if you’re looking to improve at work, it may be time to take a look at your schedule and start penciling in some much-needed breaks from work

4. Improves Mindfulness and Overall Well-Being

Too often, we can find ourselves in a routine of life, where everything is expected, normal, and—we hate to say it—boring. Because we’re repeating the same patterns and tasks and little is unexpected, there’s not much opportunity or even a drive to live in the moment, let alone live that moment to the fullest. 

There’s a sort of a been there, done that kind of feeling.

Taking a vacation is the perfect shock to the senses because it takes you out of that ordered routine and introduces a slew of new stimuli. 

Goodbye autopilot, hello living in the moment.

A single day of vacation has been shown to have similar benefits as a short meditation session and produced even greater feelings of well-being and positive emotions.

Of course, when you remove yourself from stressors like work and school and take part in active and enjoyable leisure activities that require you to live in the moment more fully, all of those good things feed into your overall well-being too!

So, taking more vacation days means better well-being and greater life satisfaction? Right. Where did we put our passports again?

But I Can’t Take a Week Off – Is a Short Vacation Still Worth It?

Yes! Vacations are an essential way to boost your physical health, improve brain functions, and increase overall well-being.

Do you remember nap times as a kid? Well, vacations for us as adults are a lot like that. Just as naps helped us grow and develop (and kept us from becoming too stressed and burnt out on the excitement and sugar sticks), vacations can help us do the same thing. Except now we get burnt out on work, taxes, personal relationships, an endless stream of responsibilities… 

Who else misses the sugar sticks?

But even if you can only plan a short getaway due to an endless list of responsibilities, the benefits of short vacations are still numerous and worth taking that time off! 

Studies show that even just four nights away from home and work life can significantly affect your overall health—lessening mental fatigue and improving cognitive performance and well-being.

It may be even more beneficial than a week off in some cases. Because you can take shorter vacations more frequently, you have more chances to experience and take advantage of the benefits.

The key factor in your vacation time is detaching from work and other daily stresses. 

If you’re hoping to get a little work in on the side or constantly thinking about things you need to do when you get back from your little getaway, don’t expect to reap all the benefits short vacations have to offer.

The whole point is to get away from work, mentally and physically, not take it with you. 

So, whether you’re planning a long or short vacation, take your first step with Next Vacay. We’ll help you find the perfect flight, so you can say goodbye to stress and hello to the new you!

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