Like a thankless American badge of honor, 2016 ended like many other years gone by – with a ton of paid vacation time left unused. $61.4 billion dollars worth to be exact, which represents the 55% of Americans who left 658 million paid vacation days on the table. But according to Project Time Off, those who skip their vacations could be harming their careers, not helping: “Employees who take 10 or less days of vacation time are less likely to have received a raise or bonus in the last three years than those who took 11 days or more.” In addition to being passed over for bonuses, they also cheat themselves out of the mental health benefits and self-healing that can result from traveling.
To make the most of your next vacation (because you’re not going to skip it, right?) follow these tips to get the mental health benefits from your time away, while avoiding the stress associate with travel.
The Average American Vacation
Since the biggest recorded barrier to taking vacation time is the worry of returning to a mountain of work, many Americans make themselves accessible during their time off. According to science, this negates the rejuvenation found by getting away.
“For a true rejuvenation and healing of body and mind that should occur with a vacation, we need to have that disconnection,” Dr. Vatsal Thakkar, clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the NYU Langone Medical Center, told CBS News. “It’s a little bit almost narcissistic to think that the world will stop if we don’t answer this email or return this call.”
Why (and How) You Should Use Your Vacation Time
The first step to taking your vacation is to plan for time off from work, which may have some beneficial side effects. Simply planning your vacation time correlates with increased happiness with your partner, your children, your job, your financial well-being and your health.
You should also avoid the stereotypical American vacation – over scheduling, which causes more stress instead of relieving it. To avoid this pitfall, be sure to plan downtime for exploring and simply relaxing.
Addiction Recovery and Travel
Travel allows you to experience new places, people and experiences; can also be a wonderful healing opportunity for those recovering from addiction. Not only does travel create an opportunity for perspective, traveling in natural surroundings has healing effects of its own.
“There’s a lot of data coming out on just the fact of being in nature,” Thakkar said. “There’s something about the smells, the sounds, even there’s some evidence on the bacteria that we find in nature actually have antidepressant property.”
And just as you would ground an electrical system, new scientific evidence shows that grounding ourselves through direct contact with the electrons on the Earth’s surface is a “profoundly effective environmental strategy against chronic stress, ANS dysfunction, inflammation, pain, poor sleep, disturbed HRV, hypercoagulable blood, and many common health disorders, including cardiovascular disease”. This may also help during the recovery process.
The Benefits of Vacationing with Your Pet
Since you’re now considering adding health-promoting outdoor experiences to your upcoming vacation, you might decide to bring along your furry friend(s). You won’t be alone, either. Eighty-five percent of those surveyed for PetRelocation.com’s annual Summer Pet Travel Survey said they bring their dog along on their travels.
One benefit of traveling with your pet is he or she serves as an adorable ice-breaker for meeting other vacationers and locals. Not only that, your animal is sure to keep you active and outdoors during your time away – and you won’t have to walk away from those big, sad eyes when you leave, either.
So if you’re in need of some time off, get it scheduled and enjoy some extra happiness. Plan a vacation that not only provides you an escape from the everyday but rejuvenates your health and well-being. You’ll be glad you did.
Article by Henry Moore
Seed of Wellness hopes you set aside vacation time this holiday season to enjoy spending time with the people and pets you love.